The 25 Worst Things to Happen in Florida in 2012

Miami Beach Fire Dept. Recruit Claims He Was Abused and Then Fired for Complaining

City: Miami Beach, FL
Date: February 2012

26-year-old aspiring fireman Brian Gentles claims that he was harassed—both sexually and because of his race—but was instructed not to complain. When he finally did complain, in February, he was fired.

The most disgusting part of the situation, aside from Gentles allegedly being called a "nigger" on more than one occasion by fellow aspiring firefighter Daniel Fiorito (who eventually became a firefighter), is that Gentles was allegedly teabagged on multiple occasions by Fiorito.

The tension came to a head in September 2011, when Gentles beasted on an important firefighter challenge, placing second. Fiorito, who finished far behind, reportedly approached Gentles, called him a "stupid nigger" and challenged him to a fight. Gentles met with superiors a week later and an official investigation was launched.

However, when Gentles was prepared to give an official recorded statement on the matter in December 2011, he was told not to "snitch," or else he would be terminated. Gentles backtracked out of fear of losing his job, but was still fired in February without explanation. Gentles filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and blew his entire life savings on legal fees to fight his termination. He was denied unemployment benefits by the city for seven months, and was unable to afford his apartment. Suddenly homeless, he was forced to live out of his car while still paying lawyers $400 an hour to fight his case.

In November, the city agreed to a mediation and Gentles was offered $100,000 and a 19-month position as a fire inspector. Gentles reluctantly signed the deal, but the retired fire chief who was supposed to supervise him has backed out of the deal. Gentles is still seeking justice, and employment.

[via Miami New Times]

Tags: florida, 2012
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