FDNY Making Headlines For All The Wrong Discriminatory Reasons

Just in time for the holiday season, when we expect most residents of New York to be generous, kind and understanding with their feelings and thoughts, we get this – more evidence that the New York City Fire Department (“FDNY”) continues to be an environment susceptible to discrimination.

Last week, it was reported that two of the city’s Bravest had claimed that they had been discriminated on the job, one for being Hispanic, and the other, Muslim.

As per the requirement for suing a municipality in New York City, the firefighters have each filed Notices of Claim, informing the city of their intent to sue. Each is seeking at least $5 million.

You may remember that back in March, 2012, we examined a Federal Court’s ruling that the FDNY was be required to pay as much as $128 million in back wages to minority candidates who took the FDNY’s screening test but were never hired, where the Court had deemed the test was discriminatory in violation of the disparate impact section of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The U.S. Court of Appeals later rejected the ruling and ordered a new trial before a different judge, while leaving in place the appointment of a monitor to oversee the FDNY’s efforts to recruit and hire more minorities.

Just when you thought the FDNY and its membership had learned their lesson, we catch news of new allegations of discriminatory practices within the department. Anthony Harper, 44, whose birth name is Othman Muhammad, alleges he was “physically assaulted, systematically excluded from meals and treated “rudely and abruptly.”

Moreover, Mr. Harper, while working at Ladder 146 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn — alleges when he refused to contribute to the shared purchase of a Kentucky Fried Chicken meal in 2008 because he’s a vegetarian, the following day he found the words “KFC Harper’s Special — all you can eat” on the screen saver of his computer, the Notice of Claim alleges.

“He then discovered KFC coupons stuck all over his work locker,” the Notice of Claim says. “This went on for months.”

The Notice of Claim further alleges that when he complained, he was transferred and later head-butted at the new firehouse, where such actions could possibly constitute retaliation.

Another FDNY member by the name of Rolando Romero, 32, who has been with the FDNY for about six years claims “that harsh treatment during FDNY training in July culminated in him suffering “second-degree burns all over his back and shoulders.”

In particular, Romero alleges “he was subjected to “torment” at Ladder 27 in the Tremont section of Bronx, where he was ignored and shunned by his colleagues and put up with “racial slurs within earshot.”

If all true, this repetition of discriminatory activities at the FDNY is simply a continuation of conduct that has recently been shunned, but clearly not eradicated.

As always, if you believe you or your family member was and/or has been discriminated against in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact the employment discrimination attorneys at the Law Office of Risman & Risman, P.C. at(212) 233-6400 or contact us online.