A Black Muslim firefighter filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Fire Department of New York City and alleged he suffered from everlasting harassment at his workplace in Brooklyn.
Raheem Hassan, a Navy veteran, claimed he endured 12 years of racial and religious harassment from his co-workers at Engine 309/Ladder 159 in Flatlands. Court papers filed by the veteran states his colleagues called him a “n***er” along with other racial remarks like “Black firefighters are lazy” and also taunted him by sneaking pork into his food being aware of his religious faith restrictions. Hassan claims in reports, that he’d often skip group meals at the firehouse.
“Upon joining the FDNY, Mr. Hassan was subject to ridicule, discrimination, hostility, retaliation and a wide variety of inappropriate behavior which was all known to his superiors and the upper echelons of the FDNY command,” the civil rights lawsuit read. “Members of the FDNY knew Mr. Hassan was of the Islamic faith, and they ostracized him because of it and his skin color.”
Hassan’s attorney Aymen Aboushi stated in court papers that when his client “complained of the unlawful conduct, he was ridiculed, retaliated against, and supervisors refused to address the hostile work environment.”
The Muslim firefighter was taken into custody in December for allegedly telling his lieutenant, “I’m going to kill the guys in the firehouse,” the Daily News reported.
Aboushi also claims in court documents Hassan’s clothes were bleached, water was thrown on him, and when he & other Black firefighters were together they were called the “Vulcan meeting”, a degrading terminology referencing to the Black firefighter organization, The Vulcan Society. “He was labeled a ‘rat,’ [and] ostracized from the firehouse and his housemates,” the suit reads.
Hassan was even afraid to sleep at the firehouse in fear of fellow firefighters exposing their genitals near his face.
The lawsuit states the “disparate treatment of minorities at the FDNY and its culture of discrimination is well known to the employer and has been well known for years.”
“We’re seeking a change in culture… We want people of color to be able to work for the FDNY without fear of discrimination,” said attorney Aboushi according to Daily News.