Miami Beach Recruit Claims Discrimination

A former recruit with the Miami Beach Fire Department is claiming he was sexually and racially harassed by fellow recruits, and that when he complained he was dismissed from the department.

Brian Gentles filed a complaint with the US Equal Opportunities Commission earlier this year alleging he was discriminated against. He is black and was born in Jamaca. Gentles claims he was subjected to racist jokes by other recruits and on one occasion a training officer handed him a job application to Burger King suggesting he apply to “be with your people”.  He also claims that a fellow recruit “tea-bagged” him.

Gentles claims that when he initially reported the abuse an investigation was launched. However, when it came time for him to speak to investigators, union officials told him not to snitch so he reluctantly recanted his story. He was terminated in February, 2012 without explanation.

The Fire Department agreed to mediate the EEOC case, and last month offered to give Gentles a $100,000 settlement and a position as a fire inspector. However, the Miami New Times claims the city is now reneging on the offer and Gentles is again demanding a job as a firefighter.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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