FDNY Firefighter Reinstated Following Drug Related Resignation

An FDNY firefighter who resigned in 2013 after failing a random drug test is getting his job back.

Glen Merkitch, 47, a 13 year FDNY veteran, tested positive for cocaine in 2013 and opted to resign rather than face discipline. Merkitch sought reinstatement in late 2014, but that request was denied by FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro who wrote in Merkitch’s denial letter: “regardless of …[my] personal feelings about the rights and wrongs of the situation…[the] laws and regulations… [governing the FDNY] preclude me from reinstating someone who resigned while facing disciplinary charges.”

Merkitch filed suit last year asking the Kings County Supreme Court to order his reinstatement. The suit claimed a double standard was being applied, and referenced the reinstatement the son for former FDNY Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, Joseph Cassano to the EMS division. The younger Cassano resigned in 2013 following the posting of bigoted and anti-Semitic comments on Twitter. FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro reinstated Cassano the same month he wrote the denial letter to Merkitch.

The complaint stated: “It’s certainly not clear why Commissioner had the discretion to permit the reinstatement of Joseph Cassano, but claimed he lacks that discretion for Merkitch.”

Merkitch was a highly decorated member of FDNY and assigned to Rescue 1. He attributed his positive test to a single poor choice precipitated by job related stress. The New York Post quoted an FDNY rep as indicating that Commissioner Nigro agreed to Merkitch’s reinstatement “after a careful and thorough review of the case.”

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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