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Epileptic Firefighter-Paramedic Sues West Palm Beach

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- An epileptic firefighter-paramedic has sued the city of West Palm Beach, Fla., alleging the city demoted her to be a dispatcher, a "stressful position" for which she was not qualified.

Jamie Moore worked for the city from 1993 to May 2006, when she says she was forced to resign rather than be terminated, and was not provided a reasonable accommodation for her disability, the suit states. She is seeking damages for civil rights violations as well as for depression and anxiety she alleges resulted from being demoted.

City policy is not to comment on pending litigation, according to spokesman Peter Robbins.

"We'll certainly review the situation and proceed accordingly," he said.

According to her suit, Moore claims she could perform her duties despite her epilepsy but the city refused to allow her to do so.

She asked to be transferred to a fire inspection position until she could prove she was being properly medicated. Instead, the city cut her pay and demoted her to dispatcher.

When she failed to perform as expected, she was given two weeks to improve or be fired, the suit alleges. She opted to resign to avoid the stigma of termination.

An arbitrator reinstated Moore, 34, of Loxahatchee, to her job in January but she continues to suffer anxiety because the city has indicated an intention to appeal the decision.

The city has placed her in the fire inspection department.

Her attorney, Isidro Garcia, said Moore is being singled out because of the nature of her disability.

"There are many firefighters who have disabling conditions high blood pressure, are overweight or have a heart condition and are not removed from their position," Garcia said. "There is something about that illness that frightens people."

Missy Diaz can be reached at mdiaz@sun-sentinel.com or 561-228-5505.

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