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Former Marshfield fire chief won $1.5 million in retaliation

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Kevin Robinson, fire chief since 2003, was reportedly forced to retire from the department in 2015 after defending a female member of the department’s family who faced discrimination.

Medford Fire Department Engine 1. Josh Reynolds for the Boston Globe

Marshfield’s former fire chief won more than $1.5 million after a years-long legal battle to fight his firing in 2015. The chief won the settlement in November, but the city hopes to continue its appeal this year.

Kevin Robinson, chief of the fire department since 2003, was allegedly forced to retire from the department in 2015. The suit, filed in Plymouth Superior Court in 2020, claims that when Robinson stood up for a female member service family discriminated against, he was forcibly removed from duty.

Robinson alleged that the city of Marshfield and two city officials retaliated against him, breached his contract, intentionally interfered with contractual relations and defamed him. In November, a jury found Robinson owed $1,532,652.80.

Robinson claims retaliation and defamation

During his 12 years as chief, Robinson supervised his brother and son, with whom the city had no problem, according to the complaint. When Shauna Robinson, his niece, joined the department as a firefighter paramedic in 2013, she did not receive the same training and support as a male employee, Robinson alleged.

When issues regarding her performance arose, Shauna was evaluated by two outside fire chiefs and a paramedic, neither of whom recommended her termination. However, then-City Administrator Rocco Longo, who has since passed away, recommended his dismissal. Robinson defended his niece.

“There were only two occasions during Robinson’s tenure as chief where new members were evaluated outside of the department – ​​both were women and both were conducted under Longo’s leadership,” the complaint states. Robinson noted that male firefighters who needed additional training received that training in a way that was not offered to “Shauna.”

The Selectmen’s board of directors — including John Hall, who is named as a defendant — allegedly threatened Robinson’s reputation and suggested he retire, according to the complaint. They denied his regular salary increase and the extension of his contract.

“It was ‘suggested’ that Robinson retire in September because he will have 35 years of service and to protect his reputation from harm,” the civil complaint states. “However, it was the reckless and false statements made by Clifford, Longo, Hall and the BOS that put Robinson’s reputation at risk.”

But Robinson still hasn’t retired, the complaint says. A few months later, in 2015, he was placed on paid administrative leave after filing a lawsuit against the city. City officials also implied that Robinson was engaging in criminal conduct regarding a state conflict of interest law, according to the complaint, and allowed the rumors to spread.

The complaint said the State Ethics Commission took no action against Robinson regarding the city’s conflict of interest allegations.

Robinson felt “he had no choice but to retire” given the city’s actions, according to the complaint, forcing him to miss out on his salary and benefits by taking retirement before the age of 65.

City lawyers requested a new trial earlier this year. They did not return a request for comment.

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