An African American firefighter has filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles, alleging he repeatedly faced discrimination and retaliation while working at a fire station in South Los Angeles, it was reported Wednesday.
Emanuel Brown, a 10-year employee, said the mistreatment began Easter Sunday in 2017, when he found feces in a compartment where he stored his jacket and breathing apparatus, the Los Angeles Times reported. The department has had a history of incidents of fecal matter being used in the harassment of black firefighters, he said in his lawsuit.
Brown, 40, discussed the incident with his colleagues and reported it to a captain outside his station, which triggered an internal personnel complaint, according to his filing. Several months later, Brown informed his colleagues he planned to discuss his situation with The Times.
All three actions resulted in harassment and retaliation from Brown’s co-workers, said Matthew McNicholas, Brown’s attorney.
In one incident, a firefighter called him a slur used against gay men, the lawsuit states. In another, a colleague taunted him and called him a “chocolate piece of (expletive),” the lawsuit states.
McNicholas said his client*s experiences show that some strands of “deep-seated racial animus have yet to be rooted out of the department.” The case also demonstrates there is an “institutional dislike” within the agency for firefighters who report employee misconduct, he said.
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer, said Feuer’s office would review the complaint and had no further comment.
Brown’s filing comes six months after Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas issued a letter saying the department had experienced a series of “divisive” workplace incidents. In one instance, he said, firefighters from different ethnic backgrounds had a “near physical altercation” after someone showed up late to work.