Firefighters to sue city over anti-Hispanic, anti-Muslim discrimination
Two of the city’s Bravest, Anthony Harper and Rolando Romero, say they were subjected to harsh treatment that included exclusion, slurs and physical assault. They both have filed notices of claim informing the city of their intent to sue for at least $5 million each.
Two of the city’s Bravest say they’ve been discriminated against by their fellow firefighters — one because he’s Hispanic and the other because he’s Muslim.
The firefighters have each filed notices of claim, informing the city of their intent to sue. Each is seeking at least $5 million.
Anthony Harper, 44, whose birth name is Othman Muhammad, alleges he was physically assaulted, systematically excluded from meals and treated “rudely and abruptly.”
Harper — while working at Ladder 146 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn — refused to contribute to the collective purchase of a Kentucky Fried Chicken meal in 2008 because he’s a vegetarian, according to the court filing. The next day, he found the words “KFC Harper’s Special — all you can eat” on the screen saver of his computer, the paperwork alleges.
“He then discovered KFC coupons stuck all over his work locker,” the notice of claim says. “This went on for months.”
He also alleges that 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.”
The documents claim Romero’s colleagues at the firehouse drank alcohol and gambled and that he was regularly called a “skell.”
“Is a little literacy too much to ask for from these motherf—ers?” a colleague once asked of Romero.
A spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department said Tuesday that lawyers hadn’t yet received the paperwork.
Minority groups have long argued that the mostly white Fire Department discriminates against people of color. The Justice Department filed suit against the city in 2007, charging that FDNY exams discriminated against black and Hispanic candidates.
Federal judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled that Mayor Bloomberg and the city intentionally discriminated against black and Latino applicants. The U.S. Court of Appeals 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.