A former rookie Los Angeles firefighter has dropped his lawsuit against the city in which he alleged he suffered retaliation after complaining of severe harassment by co-workers before he was fired in 2018.
Lawyers for plaintiff Daniel Eble filed court papers Monday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Theresa Traber asking that the case be dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning it cannot be revived later. The court papers did not state whether a settlement was reached or if Eble was not pursuing the case for other reasons. His attorneys could not be immediately reached.
According to court papers filed by the City Attorney’s Office, Eble arrived at work on a day in September 2018 “appearing to be unfit for duty,” took a drug test and was fired a month later.
Eble graduated from the Los Angeles Fire Department academy in January 2018 and within the same 24 hours proposed to his girlfriend, leading him to consider the day “the greatest in his life,” his suit filed in June 2020 stated.
Eble further said his problems began while he was at the second station of his young career.
“Plaintiff became nervous from the stress of the incessant hazing from fellow members threatening him that he needed to perform well on testing or he would be subject to further harassment and negative behavior,” the suit stated.
Although Eble passed his evaluation, he alleges he continued to be harassed with comments about his rookie status and was once asked, “Hey, are you the new guy, did you stop at the beach on your way here?”
When Eble responded that he had a thick skin when another firefighter inquired if it was thick or thin, the colleague replied that the plaintiff would probably report him anyway because he heard him use an expletive, the suit stated.
Eble said he told an LAFD psychologist in July 2018 that he was having trouble sleeping, was being harassed at work and that he dreaded going to work due to the harassment.
“He also recounted how he is getting treated like this every day and everyone was telling him he should quit,” according to the suit. “He was worried that if he was trapped in a burning building, no one would come and save him.”
The psychologist later filed an internal complaint on Eble’s behalf, the suit stated. Eble was also transferred to another station and began taking medication for depression, according to the complaint.
Eble was subsequently hurt on duty and suffered bronchitis due to smoke inhalation, dehydration and heat exhaustion while fighting two fires in one day and stayed home a few days to rest, the suit stated.
Eble eventually returned to work at another station, where he was asked by a firefighter if he was “going to get us investigated as well,” the suit said. He also alleged his knowledge was constantly tested and he was subjected to intense scrutiny by senior station members.
After being told by a captain during a September 2018 lineup that he looked tired, Eble explained he had been sick and lacked sleep from working many hours. Not long afterward, Eble was put on administrative leave after being given a drug test, the suit stated.
In early October 2018, a union representative called Eble at his home and told him that two captains were coming to take the plaintiff’s badge, identification and belt buckle and to ask him to resign, the suit stated. Eble refused to resign, but was fired without being told why, the suit alleged.
Eble later heard he was accused of failing a drug test, but he was never officially told about the test results, the suit stated. Eble also alleged he was not offered a position that accommodated his medical conditions and that the negative actions taken against him were in retaliation for his complaining about how he was being treated.