FDNY EMT Accuses EMS Chief of Sexual Harassment

An EMT with FDNY has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit claiming a high-ranking chief pursued her, and then retaliated against her when she reported his harassment. Gina Bellido filed suit against FDNY and EMS Deputy Assistant Chief Roberto Colon in US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Bellido, a 15 year veteran of FDNY EMS, claims that Chief Colon increasingly made her feel uncomfortable with inappropriate comments and physical contact, to the point that she reported him. Thereafter he subjected her to increased scrutiny.

Quoting from the complaint:

  • Plaintiff’s complaints were investigated by Defendant FDNY and approximately three months later, Plaintiff was informed that based on the FDNY’s investigation: “There is sufficient credible and corroborating evidence that EMS Deputy Assistant Chief Roberto Colon sexually harassed you by making unwelcomed comments of a sexual nature and engaging in unwelcomed touching in the workplace.”
  • Further, the correspondence from FDNY indicated, “As a result of these findings, the EEO Office has recommended, and the Commissioner has approved, that this matter be referred to the Bureau of Investigations and Trials (“BITs”) for appropriate disciplinary action. Please be advised that the FDNY anti-retaliation policy remains in effect after the conclusion of this investigation. No employee may retaliate against or harass a person for opposing discrimination, filing an EEO complaint, or cooperating in the investigation of this EEO complaint, even after the EEO Office’s findings and conclusion.”
  • Plaintiff remains employed with Defendant FDNY .
  • Since the above determination, COLON has subjected Plaintiff to increased scrutiny, including reporting to Plaintiff’s supervisor that certain department information that Plaintiff typically sends out as a regular course of business at approximately 6:30 AM was late.
  • COLON requested the information be delivered by Plaintiff “earlier.” Plaintiff’s tour of duty with FDNY begins at 5:30 AM.
  • Other units were sending the same information between 8:30 and 10:00 AM.
  • Despite Plaintiff’s complaints, Defendant FDNY has failed to take prompt and appropriate remedial action to prevent or correct further discrimination and harassment.

The suit alleges sexual harassment and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964; sexual harassment, retaliation, and aiding and abetting under the New York State Human Rights Law; and sexual harassment, retaliation and aiding and abetting under the New York City Human Rights Law.

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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