A former firefighter from Queens claims his colleagues demanded he “have sex with a stripper” to prove he wasn’t gay, now he’s filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the FDNY.
24-year-old Michael Troina alleges his colleagues at Ladder Co 1/Engine Co 7 subjected him to vicious “hazing rituals” that included racist and homophobic abuse, stomping on his bunker gear, smearing peanut butter on his car, and superimposing his face on a picture of a crying baby.
The lawsuit names the city, the FDNY, nine firefighters, three lieutenants, two chiefs and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro as defendants. In it, Troina claims he “was singled out time and time again on account of his race and national origin as a Hispanic American male as well as perceived homosexuality” and that he was “threatened with physical violence if he dared to report any incident of battery, harassment or discrimination to the FDNY’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office.”
But perhaps the most disturbing claim involves the time Toina says his colleagues “tried to coerce” him to “have sex with a stripper” to prove his heterosexuality. When he refused, the suit claims, he was called a “f*ggot”, a “loser”, and a “closet homo”.
Another time, Toina alleges he was excluded from a firehouse volleyball outing. Later, he was told his colleagues denigrated him with homophobic insults.
He also says he witnessed another firefighter doing an impression of him. When he told the lieutenant about the “degrading and discriminatory incident”, his supervisor shrugged it off and said it was “in good fun and to not take it too hard.”
Troina claims he suffered “mental and emotional stress” as a result of the “constant discrimination and ridicule,” the complaint alleges.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.