Use of N-Word Leads to Suspension in Florida

Today’s burning question: I am an African American firefighter. I used the N… word in a meeting and a coworker reported me to the fire chief. Could I be in trouble? I mean, its not like I was using it intending to threaten, belittle or intimidate someone. I mean… I am African American myself.

Answer: You could indeed be in trouble… You won’t be the first nor likely be the last to be penalized for the use of that derogatory term… and in our upside down world of political correctness your race or your intent does not seem to matter a whole lot!!!!

Fire Marshal Kevin Jones has been suspended for 10 days by the Jacksonville (Florida) Fire Rescue following a complaint by a co-worker that he used the N-word when discussing plans for an upcoming concert.

Fire Chief Martin Senterfitt ordered the discipline, and was quoted by Jacksonville.com as saying “Any use of the word in the workplace needs to be addressed. … It’s absolutely inappropriate in the workplace.”

Chief Senterfitt also said the complaint against his Fire Marshal surprised him. The department is currently facing three suits over race discrimination.

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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