Fired FDNY EMT Suit Alleges Disability Discrimination

An EMT with FDNY who was terminated in April has filed suit claiming she is being discriminated against on account of a perceived disability. Giovanna Gonzalez filed suit claiming the city violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act.

Gonzalez alleges that the city “regarded her” as having a disability, but failed to provide or consider a reasonable accommodation. Quoting from the complaint:

  • On September 9, 2021, defendant began regarding plaintiff as having the disability of a contagious disease and made a record of such disability by mis-classifying plaintiff as being substantially limited with an impaired immune system and an impaired respiratory system; and began requiring plaintiff to use mitigation measures to perform several major life activities in the workplace.
  • Defendant failed to conduct an individualized assessment to determine whether Plaintiff met the criteria of posing a direct threat.
  • Defendant only referred to statements made on the CDC’s website which does not qualify as an individualized assessment.
  • Despite having knowledge of plaintiff claiming protected status under the ADA and ADA-AA, defendant continued to limit, segregate, and classify plaintiff due to its perception of plaintiff as a person with a disability within the meaning of the ADA and ADA-AA.
  • Defendant’s responses to the requests made by Plaintiff to cease the discrimination and harassment were in fact non-responsive, dismissive or harassing.

The complaint does not identify Gonzalez’s disability beyond contending she was being regarded as having an impaired immune system. However, the complaint makes a rather vague reference to her non-compliance with the city’s vaccine mandate. Quoting again from the complaint:

  • Defendant’s “COVID-19 policies and procedures” classified plaintiff in such a way that plaintiff’s employment opportunities were adversely affected and limited because defendant would not permit plaintiff to do her job without first submitting to defendant’s accommodations (“mitigation measures”).
  • Defendant required non-job-related medical examinations or made disability-related inquiries of plaintiff that were not consistent with business necessity. Defendant has also failed to provide any notice as to the manner in which these inquiries or medical examinations were an essential function of plaintiff’s job.
  • An employer is entitled only to the information necessary to determine whether the employee can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation.
  • Defendant never conspicuously disclosed or gave legally adequate notice that complying with the COVID-19 mitigation measures (“accommodations”) are an essential function of the job of Emergency Medical Technician; and these measures have never previously been an essential function of plaintiff’s job, and also did not mention plaintiff’s right of refusal under EUA guidelines.
  • Plaintiff claimed her right not to provide any medical information that is not related to the performance of her job duties.
  • Defendant classified plaintiff as “unvaccinated”; widely shared this classification of plaintiff with other employees without any regard to confidentiality; and encouraged employees to harass plaintiff with repetitive emails, intimidating interactions and threats of termination
  • If plaintiff had previously made at least one request for reasonable modifications, plaintiff has since withdrawn such request.
  • Additionally, the experimental “vaccines” that are being promoted as vaccines do not actually prevent transmission or infection of any contagious disease, specifically regarding the “COVID-19” or “SarsCOV2” purported “diseases”.

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.

Check Also

Buffalo Firefighter Sues Colleague Over St. Patrick’s Day Assault

A Buffalo firefighter who was seriously injured in an altercation with another Buffalo firefighter following a St. Patrick’s Day parade last year, has filed suit alleging negligence, recklessness and battery. Derek Rose filed suit in Erie County Supreme Court, naming Richard Manley as the sole defendant.

Terminated Texas Deputy Chief Claims Whistleblower Retaliation

A deputy chief who was terminated from the Forney Fire Department, has filed suit claiming he was retaliated against because he raised concerns about firefighters making “under-the-table” payments for shift trades. Logan Kerr was fired from the Forney Fire Department in December, 2022, just four months after he was hired.