A former Kentucky firefighter reportedly retired from his position after a video showing him burning the Quran surfaced.
According to the Daily News of Bowling Green, the incident was reported as part of a lawsuit that was filed by another former Bowling Green firefighter earlier this week. In the lawsuit, Jeffrey Queen said he served as a firefighter at the Bowling Green Fire Department for five years, and during that time, he was subjected to a hostile environment. Not only was Queen harassed based on his religion — he identifies as atheist — he was also routinely called derogatory names because of his sexuality including “f*g,” “homo,” and “queer.” At one point, he says, his fellow firefighters said if a gay man worked in their department, “we’ll make sure he dies in a fire. We’ll chop his feet off.”
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In a press release from Craig Henry PLC, who filed the lawsuit, Queen said he wasn’t the only one who was subjected to the harassment. Other members of the fire department would reportedly call people in the LGBT community “f****** f*ggots” and African-Americans “hood rats” and the n-word. Muslims were referred to as “ragheads,” “towelheads,” and “alibabas.” In addition, Queen said one firefighter was videoed burning the Quran outside the fire station and mocking the Islamic call to prayer.
“On at least one occasion, members of Queen’s crew declined to offer medical care to a man experiencing severe chest pain after determining that he was gay,” the lawsuit reads.
Firefighter claims he was repeatedly subjected to a hostile work environment
[Photo via Shutterstock][/caption]
“Queen’s anxiety and fear at returning to work with co-workers who had openly stated a desire to harm him, combined with the extremely dangerous work conditions that would provide his co-workers such an opportunity and the department’s refusal to resolve the hostile work environment resulted in Queen’s constructive discharge in May 2016,” the lawsuit reads in part.
“The fire department’s hostility toward Muslims reached a peak in late 2015 when a firefighter at the Airport Station where Queen was assigned burned the Quran in front of the fire station while mocking the Muslim call to prayer. During the Quran burning, the firefighter stated ‘burn them all.'”
“Jeff brought this case to the court because he wanted to see real change in the way the city handles firefighters and other public safety officers that engage in this kind of conduct,” attorney Michele Henry of Louisville said on Friday. “His goal is to end this kind of discriminatory animus in those sectors.”
City officials acknowledged receiving a complaint about the 2015 incident in April, and said they immediately placed the firefighter, who has not been named in court records, on administrative leave. However, according to the city’s statement, the firefighter retired before any disciplinary action could be taken against him.
Quran, the Muslim holy book, in a Mosque
[Photo via Shutterstock][/caption]
“The actions of this one individual, as well as the various allegations made in the lawsuit, in no way represent the values of the city of Bowling Green and the Bowling Green Fire Department,” the statement reads. “The city continues to trust the justice system, will allow it to run its course, and we are confident the truth will come to light.”
What do you think about the alleged harassment and Quran burning? Leave your comments below.
[Photo via Shutterstock]