Florida Firefighter Sues Over Discrimination

A Cuban-American firefighter who claims he was subjected to a harassment on account of his ancestry, religion and disability, has filed suit in state court against Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. Eduardo Mesa claims during his initial recruit academy in 2016, a captain harassed him for a medical condition that caused him to blink and close his eyes frequently. The same captain would also ask him whether he was sleeping or praying.

Mesa ended up washing out of the academy, which he attributes to the same captain for allegedly setting him up to fail a practical evaluation. He later reapplied and successfully completed a second academy, but continued to suffer ridicule because of his medical condition. Mesa claims that when he was assigned to a station, he was falsely accused of stealing food, and asked if that was what Hispanics do. He was also asked about whether he was Mexican or Cuban.

The suit was filed Tuesday in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. It contains four counts all alleging state law claims under the Florida Civil Rights Act:

  1. Disability Discrimination
  2. National Origin Discrimination
  3. Religious Discrimination
  4. Retaliation

Here is a copy of the complaint:  Mesa v Palm Beach County

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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