New York City's Fire Commissioner, Rosemary J. M. Erikson, has been accused of age discrimination in a 53-page lawsuit filed against her by senior staff members of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). The lawsuit alleges that Erikson sought to "destroy" the careers of older employees and engaged in discriminatory practices.
The complaint was filed on behalf of five former senior FDNY officials who claimed they were subjected to demotions and reassignments based on their age. According to the lawsuit, Erikson made several comments related to employees' ages during meetings and even referred to them as "old timers."
One plaintiff alleged that his job duties were stripped away from him and given to a younger employee without any justification. Another plaintiff claimed she was reassigned multiple times without any explanation or reason other than her age.
The plaintiffs are seeking damages for lost wages, benefits, emotional distress, humiliation, and damage to their reputations.
In response to the claims made against her, Erikson stated that she could not comment on pending litigation but categorically denied engaging in discriminatory practices or targeting older employees.
This is not the first time the FDNY has faced accusations of discrimination. In 2017, a federal judge ruled that New York City had discriminated against black applicants who took an entrance exam for firefighter positions between 1999-2002. The city ultimately agreed to pay $98 million in damages as part of a settlement agreement.
As this case unfolds in court, it brings attention once again towards workplace discrimination issues prevalent across various sectors regardless of race or gender-based bias among others.