New York Firefighter Sues Yonkers for Retaliation Over Racial Slur

A Yonkers firefighter who was suspended for thirty-five days without pay for posting a racial slur in social media has filed suit in federal court contending his punishment was retaliation for an earlier complaint he filed against an officer who used a racial slur in his presence.

David Daoud filed suit yesterday in US District Court for the Southern District of New York naming the Yonkers Fire Department as the sole defendant. Daoud identifies himself as an Arab in the complaint. According to the complaint:

  • On October 12, 2018, Plaintiff was assigned to work the day tour at Yonkers Fire Station 13.
  • While Plaintiff was having lunch with his colleagues, including two supervisors, Lts. James Callahan and Daniel Kime, one of his colleagues asked Plaintiff how he identified his ethnicity on the entrance exam. Plaintiff responded that he selected Caucasian as he is Middle Eastern and that was listed under Caucasian.
  • Lt. Kime, his supervisor, immediately responded, “He should have put down sand nigger.”
  • Plaintiff was shocked and appalled by his supervisor’s use of a racist slur in front of his colleagues and another supervisor.
  • Lt. Kime went on to say words to the effect that Plaintiff should not be sensitive about his use of the slur because there are firefighters in Plaintiff’s firehouse who brag about having killed Arabs while they were in military service.
  • Upon information and belief, Lt. Kime subsequently went on to relay the incidents to Plaintiff’s colleagues and supervisors in a way that misrepresented events and damaged Plaintiff’s reputation by claiming that Plaintiff had instigated an argument with Lt. Kime and had been insubordinate.
  • Plaintiff complained to Deputy Chief of Personnel Daniel Flynn about the deeply humiliating discriminatory incident.
  • On or about January 18, 2019, Callahan, told Plaintiff that Kime was merely “ribbing” him.
  • In January 2019, Firefighter Union President, Barry McGoey shared a memorandum via text with Plaintiff in which Lt. Kime merely receive a written reprimand as discipline for his discriminatory actions.
  • Upon information and belief, instead of investigating the incident promptly and taking appropriate disciplinary action, Defendant delayed the investigation and prolonged the disciplinary process in order to allow Kime to retire with no disciple as planned in March of 2020.
  • On August 27, 2019, Plaintiff was summoned to meet with the Inspector General of Yonkers for an alleged egregious offense on the part of Plaintiff.
  • A complaint against Plaintiff had apparently been lodged two to three weeks before.
  • Plaintiff was told that he is being investigated for using the slang term “nigga” on a social media platform.
  • The complaint against Plaintiff was investigated by the Inspector General. This is out of the ordinary since all investigations of an employee of Defendant’s takes place internally within the Fire Department.
  • Upon information and belief, the investigation was conducted by the Inspector General rather than internally in retaliation for Plaintiff complaining about the discrimination that he had endured.
  • On or about September 10, 2019, Plaintiff complained that he is being retaliated against.
  • In a Notice of Discipline dated December 16, 2019, Plaintiff was informed that he would be suspended without pay for thirty-five days causing him and his family undue financial hardship.

Daoud claims that the city’s conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as discrimination and retaliation; violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981 as discrimination and retaliation; and violated New York State Executive Law §296 as discrimination and retaliation.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

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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