WASHINGTON – The old guard, a traditional part of the fire fighter industry, are finding the world changing around them as Fire Departments across the nation become more diverse. Recently, Lynden City Fire Department has settled a suit brought by one of its firefighters for racial discrimination.
In the suit, Damon Winters, a volunteer fire fighter, alleged the department promulgated a culture of racism and discrimination. Winters, an Egyptian born American citizen, filed a suit against the city and Assistant Chief Robert Spinner in a Seattle District Court on April 5. Winters, who had been volunteering for the department since August of 2013, applied for either of two full time positions open at the department in August 2013. Both positions went to white officers. He also applied for a part time position the next summer, which he was given. In August of 2015, Winters was offered a full-time position at the department but the department later informed Winters that the department had to rescind their offer because he was not a U.S. citizen. To add insult to injury, the part-time position Winters had occupied was eliminated in December 2015. The city stated the position was temporary, but that was not what Winters was told when he accepted the position.
According to the suit, Spinner had a history and pattern of ignoring, manipulating, bending and often breaking hiring policies to favor firefighters he wanted to hire. Spinner was generally known as a deeply racists man, often making inappropriate comments about black people, Mexicans, women and members of the LGBTQ community. Spinner seemingly targeted Winters specifically; calling Winters a terrorist, critiquing Winters, food as stinking up the office kitchen, despite Winters’ mostly American diet. Spinner would refer to Winters as a terrorist, dismissing Winters’ charges as an attempt to seek money.
Racial discrimination is present in every industry. Racial discrimination occurs when a person is discriminated against on the basis of their race; the clearest indicator are a hostile work environment or adverse employment decision based on an individual’s race. Here, Winters was denied a job, presumably based on his race. Winters was also subjected to a hostile work environment by the rude comments made by Spinner. This was a clear case of Spinner, and by consequence the department, discriminating against Winters because he was an Egyptian. The Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, has years of litigating claims of racial discrimination in the workplace and will work tirelessly to protect the rights of every client.
The department was settled Winters’ case for $250,000. Not admitting guilt, a spokesmen for the department stressed how important it was to settle a case when it is financially prudent to settle, allowing the city and the department to move forward. When asked whether there were any reservations about Spinner’s ability to lead in light of the accusations, the spokesperson simply replied “no.”
The skilled litigation attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, have years of experience litigating racial discrimination claims. We work tirelessly to achieve high dollar settlements for our clients. Recently, Abe Melamed, Esq. has litigated various racial discrimination claims, recovering tens of thousands for his clients. If you feel you have been discriminated against at work, please give us a call toll-free, at 877-469-5297 for a free consultation about your possible claim.
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If you feel you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment in New York, New Jersey or Philadelphia or if your employment rights have been violated, then you should immediately contact the NYC, NJ, PA sexual harassment lawyers at the employment law firm of DEREK T. SMITH LAW GROUP, PLLC. No one deserves a hostile work environment.
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