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Ask Ely Your Own Question
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 101731
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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I am a volunteer fire chief out of work from my full time

Customer Question

I am a volunteer fire chief out of work from my full time job being told by the fire district that I can not answer fire or ems calls as long as i'm on disability my doctors says I can as long as I limit my duties . as a fire chief i do command and do not have to be on my foot do i have any legal standing that i can use to be able to go on scene and do my duty
JA: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: New York
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?
Customer: no
JA: Anything else you think the lawyer should know?
Customer: We have another fire fire that is also on the board of fire commissioners that is totally disabled but is allowed on scene
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 9 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation. On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and this is one of these times.

You are a volunteer. As such, someone in your situation is then not covered under ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act). Under Title I of ADA, only individuals with disabilities who meet the definition of "employee" are entitled to reasonable accommodations.

Even though the other person is being allowed to go to the scene, that does not mean that the department has to allow you to do the same, because as a volunteer you cannot demand participation in events, and are not covered by the ADA so argument about disability accommodations is moot.

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Customer: replied 9 months ago.
according to what I have been told is we are unpaid employees of the town we are entitled to the same benifits as the town high employees. my disability is temporary the other persons is permanent
Expert:  Ely replied 9 months ago.

With respect (and I do respect your volunteer time as a firefighter - that is something praiseworthy), what you have been told is wrong. See HERE. Only persons who receive "significant remuneration" are covered by ADA. "Significant remuneration" means pay/benefits. By being unpaid, you are a volunteer. ADA does not apply.

HOWEVER, if you receive other benefits, that may qualify as "significant remuneration." Example from EEOC:
"CP was terminated from her position as a probationary volunteer firefighter after she failed an agility test. She alleges that the test has a disparate impact on women. Respondent claims that CP was not an employee, and, therefore, not protected by Title VII. State X provides volunteer firefighters up to $400/month in state retirement benefits (after five years of service); death and survivors benefits; group life insurance; disability and rehabilitation benefits; health care benefits; and tuition reimbursement for courses in emergency medical and fire service techniques. These benefits are "significant remuneration" sufficient to create an employment relationship between CP and Respondent."
Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.