Former Minneapolis firefighter Keith Daniel spent five years fighting City Hall over a pair of tennis shoes. His long legal fight ended in January with the city agreeing to pay Daniel and his attorneys $785,000 to close the disability discrimination case.
“For me, it was hard to believe that we went all through this for a pair of … tennis shoes,” Daniel, 59, said. “I’m just glad it’s over with, and I hope the verdict that I received sends a message to the city so someone else doesn’t have to go through this.”
Years ago, Daniel had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right ankle. He joined the Minneapolis Fire Department in 2001. In 2011, Daniel twisted his right ankle when he was searching a house after a tornado struck north Minneapolis. He then aggravated his injury on the job in August 2014. After that, a doctor gave him a prescription to wear tennis shoes at the fire station to “provide greater support and comfort for his ankle.”
Black leather boots are a required part of the uniform for Minneapolis firefighters. His footwear request was denied, and he injured his angle again in 2015. Department staff initially agreed to let him wear the tennis shoes and then reversed their decision. He finally retired and filed suit against the city.
The case went to the Minnesota Supreme Court, then back to Hennepin County District Court for a trial last year. The case was settled in Daniels’ favor on the grounds on failure to provide disability accommodations under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Disagreement over damages took several more weeks.
Daniel said he knows other firefighters who have had similar problems and hopes the city will make changes to prevent future cases like his.
Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune