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Miami Beach fire department settles harassment charges

Miami Beach settled a harassment, intimidation, and racism allegation recently and an investigator hired by the city also found the accusations to be lacking in credibility. The complaint was filed in April by a former black fire recruit who details some horrific events performed on him and derogative language used towards him.

The former recruit was initially seeking $5.3 million in damages, lost wages and attorney's fees, but ended up settling the case with the city for $100,000 and an offer to return to the department as an inspector. The inspector position is contingent on the former recruit passing his exam.

While pleased to have settled, the man does not like the standard he thinks it sets. "They're setting a precedent: You can treat somebody like this and it doesn't matter, we'll cover it up," said the man. He does not agree with the findings of the investigator which was hired by the very city he was attempting to sue. According to him, they lack objectivity.

The investigator said that many of the witnesses and co-workers that he interviewed "categorically denied the accusations." According to him, this brings into question the validity of the charges and whether there ever was any factual basis for them.

Back in 1991, the Department of Justice investigated the fire department for similar accusations and found that they were unfairly and unjustifiably keeping black and Hispanic recruits and applicants from becoming firefighters.

Harassment, intimidation, and racism are serious allegations and unfortunately continue to occur in the workplace. Should you as an employee feel that you have been discriminated against in any manner, please seek an employment law attorney in order to protect yourself and your fellow employees. As an employer, you will also want to consult an employment law attorney in order to better safeguard you and your company with policies that prevent this type of activity.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Report: No proof of fire recruit's racism, harassment claims," David Smiley, Dec. 10, 2012

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