A federal lawsuit filed by an African-American firefighter accuses the New York City Fire Department of permitting discrimination and sexual hazing, the New York Post reports.
Gordon Springs, 27, seeks unspecified damages for multiple incidents that he alleges were intended to make him quit the department. The Post said the U.S. Department of Justice launched a probe to investigate his claims.
The first alleged incident happened on May 4, 2015, when Springs was a rookie. He and three other rookies went to their new firehouse in midtown Manhattan for a tour. Instead of a tour, the rookies were taken to a gym in the firehouse where four naked firefighters were waiting for them.
Springs said he tried to leave but was compelled to lie down on a workout bench, and the naked men placed their genitals on his face.
The lawsuit claims that Springs was “singled out time and time again” because of his race. It says one of his superiors, Pedro Aristy, told him, “I don’t like you . . . Blacks getting on the job this way. You don’t have good work ethic.”
According to The Post, that comment is a reference to hiring preference for minorities under a federal court order to diversify the department.
Aristy also told Springs that he could physically assault him, and it would be a waste of time filing a complaint because the other firefighters would be silent.
Although the department transferred Springs twice, the harassment continued because Springs was labeled a troublemaker.
Earlier investigations lend credence to Springs’ allegations. The Post reported in October that the department disciplined seven firefighters for hazing an African-American firefighter at the same firehouse where Springs said he was hazed. And in November, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found “reasonable cause” to believe Springs.
SOURCE: New York Post