L.A. Settles Suit With Black Firefighter
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The city is paying $2.7 million to settle a lawsuit from a black firefighter who claims he suffered racial discrimination after co-workers served him spaghetti laced with dog food.
The City Council approved the award Wednesday, 11-1.
In his lawsuit, firefighter Tennie Pierce, 51, said after he took a bite of the meal two years ago, he noticed other firefighters laughing. He demanded to know what was in the food after a second bite but nobody answered.
Pierce said he suffered retaliation for reporting the incident and verbal slurs, insults and derogatory remarks, including taunting by firefighters ``barking like dogs (and) asking him how dog food tasted,″ the lawsuit said.
David Wellman, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz hired by Pierce’s attorney, said the association of a black man and dog food ``resonates with the deep historical roots of slavery and the corresponding dehumanization.″
``It’s not just silly stuff. It’s racially motivated,″ he said.
As part of the settlement, the two captains involved were given one month off without pay, and a firefighter was ordered off work for three days without pay.
``I truly hope that my case will make a difference for African-Americans in the Los Angeles Fire Department,″ Pierce said in a statement.