New York Firefighter Alleges Harassment and Retaliation

A volunteer firefighter with the Lakeview Fire Department in New York has filed suit in federal court alleging a variety of civil rights violations and state law claims against what the complaint describes as “a cabal comprised of officers and publicly elected officials of the Lakeview Fire District and Lakeview Fire Department.”

Yonatan Klein filed suit last week alleging wrongful termination; violation of his rights under the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; retaliation; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and creation of a hostile work environment in violation of New York State Law. The complaint names the Lakeview Fire District, Lakeview Fire Department, Frederick G. Senti Jr., Frederick G. Senti III, James Galia, Michael Koppel and Heather McNeill as defendants.

Klein, who is a captain with FDNY’s EMS division, joined the department in 2011, and was elected lieutenant in 2017. The complaint alleges his problems began later that year when he witnessed one member assault another member, and cooperated with an investigation into the incident.

Klien claims he was threatened and harassed by the member who committed the assault, as well as by his supporters. The threats continued despite Klien’s complaints to the chain of command. Gradually his responsibilities with the department were diminished until January, 2021, when he was terminated.

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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