East Lake firefighter James Finley demoted for using racial slurs

10:06 AM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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CLEARWATER, Florida (AP) - A firefighter accused of making racial slurs and sending lewd text messages is being stripped of his ranking.

On Thursday, East Lake fire commissioners voted to back Chief Tom Jamison's decision to demote Lt. James Finley.

The Tampa Bay Times reports an investigation in May suggested Finley called a fellow Hispanic firefighter a "dirty Mexican" and "gay Puerto Rican" and sent at least two racial text messages to co-workers.

Finley has denied making the comments and sending the texts. Through his union's grievance process, Finley asked the fire commissioners to overturn the demotion. Finley didn't show up to Thursday's meeting. The commission voted 3-1 to demote him. Now the issue could head to arbitration.

The Times reports the department and the commission are being investigated by the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights.

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