A firefighter from Corby is seeking compensation after he claimed he was overlooked for promotion because of his race.
Warren Simpson, who is of Jamaican origin, is a commander at a station in Birmingham, according to the Northamptonshire Telegraph.
But the man, who is being backed by charity group Race 4 Justice, said he could not be promoted any further up the hierarchy because of his skin colour.
Mr Simpson told a tribunal against West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service that he had been racially harassed by people in the organisation in the past and that this might have been indicative of a wider problem within the authority.
When the firefighter told bosses that he wanted to discuss his problems, there were delays in arranging this and Mr Simpson had enough - launching legal action.
James Macmillan, the tribunal's judge, told the manager's boss: "This is a serious and detailed complaint and you don't appear to have raised the matter with Mr Simpson’s line manager.
"Mr Simpson says quite clearly in his statement that he was unhappy because of the way he was treated because he was black."
However, Mr Simpson's bosses refute these allegations and said there is no racism in the organisation at all. They added the complaining firefighter overreacted when he was passed over for a new position - something he denies.
If it is proven that racial abuse was not acted upon at an institutional level, it will be difficult for bosses to argue that Mr Simpson was not prevented from being considered for promotion because of his racial background.
Race 4 Justice stated that Mr Simpson is the highest ranked black fire service officer in the West Midlands.
This could be an important test case for emergency service personnel in other areas of the country that feel they have been prevented from climbing up the corporate ladder because of the colour of their skin or ethnicity.
By Chris Stevenson