NJ City Settles Perceived Sexual Orientation Discrimination Suit for $90k

A New Jersey city has agreed to settle a discrimination suit filed by a part-time EMT for $90,000.

Donald Hymer, Jr. filed suit last year against the City of Bridgeton and the head of Bridgeton EMS, Tiffany Durham, claiming he was wrongfully terminated and discriminated against “because of his perceived sexual orientation.” Hymer was fired on May 29, 2015.

Among the allegation:

  • Hymer was subjected to repeated and severe discriminatory treatment on the basis of his perceived sexual orientation,
  • Hymer’s perceived sexual orientation was the subject of mockery and jokes during an interview for a full-time EMT position on March 3, 2015.
  • During the interview, which was attended by the Chief, Captains, and Lieutenants of the Bridgeton Fire Department, Defendant Durham stated to Mr. Hymer, “You need to watch who you hang out with! I saw pictures of you and [male friend] spooning on Facebook!”
  • The other interviewers proceeded to laugh loudly at Mr. Hymer.
  • On or about March 16, 2015, Plaintiff was informed that he did not receive the promotion to the full-time EMT position with the Fire Department.
  • Hymer was not selected for the available promotion even though he had the highest seniority of the interviewees.
  • Hymer was subjected to discriminatory harassment while employed at the Bridgeton Fire Department, including but not limited to, the following:
    • Being called “faggot” by multiple coworkers;
    • Being asked by supervisor Defendant Durham, “Do you know what side of the fence you are on?”
    • Being repeatedly called “gay” in a derogatory manner;
    • Multiple coworkers have discussed and mocked Mr. Hymer’s sexual orientation on social media, including Facebook and Instagram. Upon information and belief, Defendant Durham was aware of these posts;
    • On or about April 27, 2015, a coworker posted an unauthorized picture of Mr. Hymer on the internet with the caption “Gentlemen: He’s single and ready to mingle. Donald Evelyn Hymer. Check him out … “

The suit alleged violations of New Jersey discrimination laws and was filed in Cumberland County Superior Court. It was settled on confidential terms in March, but posted on the NJ Civil Settlements blog last week

Here is a copy of the complaint and the settlement agreement: Hymer v Bridgeton

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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