Reverse Discrimination Alleged in FDNY Medical Officer Promotion

Two FDNY physicians have filed suit against the city claiming they were passed over for a promotion on account of their race and age. Both doctors are white and in their 60s.

Dr. Mark Spadaro, MD and Dr. Ann Marchesano, MD have served as City Medical Specialists for FDNY since 2007. Both are board certified physicians and each have over 30 years of experience.

In 2013, FDNY advertised a full time position as a Fire Medical Officer. The position would have been a promotion for either Dr. Sparado or Dr. Marchesano, who had been working 24 hours per week for FDNY as City Medical Specialists. According to the complaint:

  • The position of Fire Medical Officer required a license to practice medicine in New York and board certification in a specialty required by the FDNY.
  • Both Plaintiffs applied for promotion to said position several times, in response to the original and subsequent postings. Fire Medical Officer is of higher rank than City Medical Specialist and provides greater remuneration.
  • On or about June 2014, Drs. Kelly and Ortiz selected an applicant to be offered the position and subsequently offered the position to Dr. Shenecia Beecher, a thirty (30) year old African American female born on May 31, 1984. Thereafter, Dr. Beecher accepted the offer of employment.
  • At the time that she was selected for the position of Fire Medical Officer, Dr. Beecher had never worked as an attending nor primary care Physician, had only been licensed to practice medicine for three (3) years, was only four (4) years removed from medical school, had no relevant experience, had no experience in the FDNY, was still in residency and lacked any board certification.
  • At the time of their respective applications for the position of Fire Medical Officer, both Plaintiffs were licensed and board certified, had many years of relevant experience and had served satisfactorily in the position of City Medical Specialist.
  • Defendant was without authority to waive the requirement of board certification for the Fire Medical Officer position, which it obviously did since Dr. Beecher was not board certified at the time of posting nor hiring.
  • Additionally, since 2012, Defendant has hired all non-whites as Fire Medical Officers, all of whom were substantially younger than Plaintiffs.
  • Further, when Plaintiff Marchesano inquired of Dr. Ortiz why Dr. Beecher was selected for the position in question, Dr. Ortiz told her “they wanted someone younger and fresh.”
  • When Plaintiff Marchesano inquired of Dr. Kelly why Dr. Beecher was selected, Dr. Kelly told her “the FDNY is looking for a fresh way to diversify and the department currently looks different than when she started working there.”
  • Defendant selected a less qualified, thirty (30) year old black female over Plaintiffs who were better qualified.
  • On information and belief, Defendant refused to promote either Plaintiff to the position of Fire Medical Officer because they were over fifty (50) years old and white.

The three count complaint alleges race and age discrimination under federal law, New York state law, and New York City law.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Spadaro v City of New York

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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