A Black firefighter claimed he was a victim of racial abuse and demoted by his boss after he transferred to another New York City Fire Department location in Brooklyn.
Roben Duge was hailed a hero in Queens after rescuing a family from a burning home. However, he alleges that racist colleagues and supervisor at the new department refused to give him any respect.
The 32-year-old transferred to Ladder 103 in East New York in 2013 because of its busy location and hoped to gain more experience as a firefighter. Instead, he says, he was met with racism by his co-workers “because of his color” and was told to “go back to the neighborhood you live in” by his employer Capt. Daniel Florenco, according to court documents obtained by the New York Post.
Duge said Florenco tried to force him to leave the Ladder, but he refused. One of his white colleagues reportedly threatened him and said, “If this were back in the day, you would have been punched in the face for refusing to transfer out.”
The captain is also accused of asking Duge’s former company as to why “they had allowed the transfer.”
Additionally, the lawsuit claims Florcenco refused to give Duge and another Black firefighter helmet metal plates that identified their fire unit and he tried to sabotage the Black firefighter by forcing him “to carry out the job meant for two” people during a fire in 2017. The second person assigned on the job coincidentally didn’t show up.
Duge claims after the incident Florenco accused him of being a “safety hazard” and reassigned him to administrative duties driving a messenger van because he complained of how he was treated,” legal document reported. The veteran firefighter was demoted and since been driving a van for a year now said the victim’s attorney Aymen Aboushi.
Duge has been a firefighter since 2013. He was off-duty when he rescued a family from their burning home in March. He pulled a grandmother and her two grandchildren out of the fire right on time. The grandmother Linda Mitchell added, “I live to see another day.”