Firefighter is suing New York City Fire Department for homophobic abuse

Firefighter sues New York homophobic abuse

A firefighter is suing the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) after his squad allegedly branded him ‘gay’.

Jason Johnson, 40, filed a Manhattan federal lawsuit on Monday (22 October) claiming a campaign of harassment forced him to quit an elite rescue unite.

The former National Guardsman joined the FDNY in 2006 before making it into the Special Operations Command unit in 2016. The suit claims he was one of only two black firefighters in the unit and ostracized from the start.

One incident references a ride in a firetruck where one of the squad allegedly attempts to grab Johnson’s crotch. Johnson responds by trying to kiss the alleged grabber, attempting to make him feel ‘equally uncomfortable’.

The suit states: ‘For the remainder of the ride, [the accused] and another firefighter made repeated disparaging remarks about Johnson’s perceived homosexual orientation, saying excitedly, “You’re gay, you’re gay, we have confirmation!”‘

Continued harassment

Another firefighter is said to have remarked: ‘You weren’t supposed to kiss him. You were supposed to punch him! No straight guy would have kissed him.’

Other incidents cited include being taunted when Johnson arrived sweaty from jogging or biking to work. The Squad 18 firefighters would say things like: ‘Did you run through west village to say hi to your gay friends?’

They also allegedly photographed him without his permission while changing. The photo was doctored to include a thought bubbly above his head, saying ‘hey boys’. This was shown to the rest of the squad.

The suit also accused them of racial discrimination. In one incident referenced by the suit, the squad participated in a water rescue drill. A fellow firefighter is said to have remarked ‘black guys really don’t do well in water.’

The lawsuit states that the teasing and harassment continued until Johnson was removed from the unit in March 2017.

Johnson is seeking a court order to reinstate him into the Special Operations divisions, as well as damages.

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Source: Gay News