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NYSCEF DOC. NO. 1 I N D E X N O . 5 3 4

NYSCEF DOC. NO. 1

INDEX NO. 53496/2019 RECEIVED NYSCEF: 03/05/2019

JOHN

JOHN

J.

J.

33 Plymouth

Montclair,

973-509-8500

NY

Office:

14

New

Murray

York,

Attorneys

File

No.

ZIDZIUNAS

ZIDZIUNAS,

Street,

New

Jersey

&

ASSOCIATION,

ESQ,

NY

BAR

Suite

202A

07042

I.D.:

St.,

NY

for

527-006

Ste.

10007

235

Plaintiff,

Ernest

Richardson

LLC

940704

SUPREME

COURT

OF

THE

STATE

OF

NEW

YORK

COUNTY

OF

WESTCHESTER

 

ERNEST

RICHARDSON,

PLAINTIFF,

 

VS.

CITY

OF

MOUNT

VERNON,

MOUNT

VERNON

MAYOR

individual

capacities),

JOHN

professional

(In

FIRE

DEPARTMENT,

RICHARD

THOMAS

(In

his

and

professional

 

CAPTAIN

MICHAEL

ST.

his

individual

capacities),

and

CHIEF

OF

INDEX

NO.:

COMPLAINT

ÓPERATIONS

AL

FARID

SALAHUDDIN

(In

his

individual

and

professional

DOES

1-10,

DEFENDANTS.

capacities),

and

XYZ

JOHN

CORPS.

1-10,

Plaintiff,

Ernest

Richardson

Summit

Avenue,

Mount

Vernon,

Defendants,

the

City

of

Mayor

Richard

Thomas

Michael

St.

John

("St.

Operations

Al

Farid

Mount

Vernon

("Thomas"),

John"),

in

Salahuddin

("Richardson"

NY

10552

("City"),

by

Mount

or

"Plaintiff"),

way

of

Vernon

this

Fire

in

his

his

individual

individual

("Salahuddin"),

 

and

professional

and

professional

 

in

his

individual

1 of 32

who

resides

at

256

Complaint

Department

capacities,

capacities,

and

against

("MVFD"),

Captain

Chief

the

of

professional

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NYSCEF DOC. NO. 1

INDEX NO. 53496/2019 RECEIVED NYSCEF: 03/05/2019

capacities,

hereby

says:

John

Does

1-10,

and

XYZ

Corps.

1-10,

(hereinafter

collectively

"Defendants")

I.

Nature

of

Action,

Jurisdiction,

and

Venue

1.

This

State

is

an

action

Human

seeking

Rights

Discrimination/Harassment);

N.Y.

the

Exec.

New

Law

York

§

290

State

equitable

Law,

et

seq.

N.Y.

(2)

Human

and

Exec.

violation

(Race

Rights

legal

Law

of

relief

for:

(1)

the

§

290

New

et

York

violation

seq.

State

of

the

("NYSHRL")

Human

New

Rights

Discrimination

Law,

NY

-

Retaliation);

Exec

L

§290

(3)

violation

(2014)

York

(Race

Law,

of

(Race

Discrimination/Perceived

Sexual

Orientation-Hostile

Work

Environment);

(4)

New

York

Breach

contract.

2. Venue

basis

Whistleblower

of

the

implied

Law,

N.Y.

covenant

Labor

of

is

for

appropriate

the

within

in

that

asserted

some

causes

good

Law

faith

§740

and

(Whistleblower

fair

dealing;

of

of

the

action

illegal

and

occurred

improper

in

Mount

Retaliation);

(6)

which

(5)

of

the

and

acts

Vernon,

breach

are

New

York,

Westchester

headquartered

County,

Mount

or

Vernon,

County

and

are

or

doing

employees

New

York,

the

Defendants

business

acting

in

Westchester

in

in

this

matter

Mount

their

Vernon,

individual

County.

are

and

entities

New

official

York,

or

organizations

Westchester

capacities

in

in

3. Plaintiff,

Avenue,

Ernest

Richardson,

Vernon,

NY

II.

Parties

("Plaintiff"

or

"Richardson")

resides

at

256

4.

5.

6.

7.

At

all

("Mount

pertinent

Vernon"),

times,

in

Richardson

the

Mount

was

Vernon

employed

Fire

Department

by

the

City

of

("MVFD").

Mount

Vernon

Mount

Rights

Mount

and

at

Vernon

Law

Vernon

least

is

an

("NYSHRL")

employs

four

(4)

employer

and

the

at

least

within

New

one

or

more

persons

the

York

meaning

of

Whistleblower

the

New

Law

York

State

("NYWL").

(1)

or

more

required

by

employees

required

the

NYSHRL.

by

the

Human

NYWL

Defendant,

Mayor

Richard

Thomas

("Thomas")

the

Mayor

of

Mount

Vernon

and

an

employee

to

aid

or

abet

in

the

illegal

conduct

complained

of

was

Mount

of

at

all

times

Vernon,

hereunder

relevant

who

and/or

took

hereto,

actions

who

took

2

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actions

that

serve

as

the

factual

predicate

 

for

the

illegal

conduct

 

complained

 

of

hereunder.

 

Captain

Michael

St.

John

("St.

John")

is

currently

the

Fire

Captain

of

the

MVFD

and

employee

of

Mount

Vernon,

took

actions

to

aid

or

abet

in

the

illegal

conduct

complained

of

hereunder

and/or

who

took

actions

that

serve

as

the

factual

predicate

for

the

illegal

conduct

complained

of

hereunder.

 

Al

Farid

Salahuddin

 

("Salahuddin"),

is

currently

the

Chief

of

Operations

 

of

the

MVFD

and

an

employee

of

Mount

Vernon,

took

actions

to

aid

or

abet

in

the

illegal

conduct

complained

of

hereunder

and/or

who

took

actions

that

serve

as

the

factual

predicate

for

the

illegal

conduct

complained

of

hereunder.

 

During

relevant

time

period,

JOHN

DOES

1-10

are

currently

unknown

employees/agents/workers/contractors

employed

by

Defendants,

 

or

were

either

 

Defendants'

 

senior

management

level

employees

who

controlled

 

workplace,

 

who

aided

and/or

abetted

in

the

commission

of

conduct

complained

 

of

herein

and/or

who

either

acted

within

the

scope

of

their

employment

 

at

the

workplace

 

site

during

working

hours,

or,

to

the

extent

they

went

beyond

the

scope

of

 

their

employment,

 

Defendants

ratified,

embraced

 

and

added

to

JOHN

DOES'

conduct.

As

the

parties

engage

in

discovery,

Plaintiff

retains

the

right

to

amend

the

Complaint

to

add

these

individual

employees

by

name.

 
 

the

relevant

time

period,

XYZ

Corps.

1-10

are

unknown

affiliated

corporations

 

or

entities

or

other

corporations

 

of

the

named

Defendants

 

who

have

liability

for

the

claims

set

forth

herein.

As

the

parties

engage

in

 

discovery,

Plaintiff

retains

the

right

to

amend

the

Complaint

to

add

these

individual

entities

by

name.

all

Defendants

are

subject

to

suit

under

the

statutes

alleged

above.

 
 

all

times

referred

to

in

this

Complaint,

employees

 

of

the

Defendants,

who

are

referred

to

herein,

were

acting

within

the

scope

of

their

employment

 

at

the

workplace

during

working

 

hours,

or,

to

the

extent

that

they

were

not

so

acting,

the

Defendants

ratified,

embraced

and

added

to

their

conduct

 

8. Defendant

9. Defendant

10. the

11. During

12. Thus,

13. At

3

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Ill.

Factual

Allegations

14. Plaintiff,

15.

career

Ernest

Richardson,

with

is

the

Plaintiff's

and

was

a

41-year-old,

MVFD.

black,

started

male,

his

was

who

has

an

expansive

career

as

a

firefighter

an

exemplary

to

until

which

assume

his

employee

led

the

to

role

constructive

to

the

10552.

as

a

firefighter

throughout

Plaintiff

in

February

 

2003.

At

all

times

who's

performance

promotion.

In

January

2016,

Deputy

Fire

demotion

 

in

During

his

time

August

as

Headquarters

located

career,

his

Plaintiff

employer's

by

in

Mayor

that

met

Plaintiff

exceed

appointed

and

expectations,

Thomas

capacity

was

his

of

16.

Commissioner

worked

2016.

Deputy

at

Fire

470

E.

17.

Commissioner,

Lincoln

Plaintiff

Mount

assigned

MVFD

Avenue,

Vernon,

NY

18.

19.

20.

21.

Plaintiff's

Brother

22.

As

Deputy

received

As

Deputy

MVFD,

gas

Fire

for

Fire

conduct

Commissioner,

his

City

Vehicle

Commissioner,

meetings,

Plaintiff

paid-for

Plaintiff's

received

by

the

job

manage/oversee/supervise

the

City.

duties

benefits

were

to

of

over

a

City

oversee

150+

vehicle

the

and

entire

employees,

managed

work

the

after

MVFD's

of

conditions

annual

2016

were

of

budget,

and

uniform.

when

Plaintiff

altered

and

"Firefighter",

the

the

entire

MVFD,

MVFD's

instead

a

firefighter's

August

However,

employment

under

Vernon,

Plaintiff

150+

the

NY

no

employees,

demoted

10552.

longer

position

oversaw

managed

wore

a

professional

suit

every

day

to

was

constructively

demoted,

Plaintiff's

he

was

located

conducted

re-assigned

at

435

S.

Fulton

meetings,

to

Fire

Avenue,

Station

supervised

#2

Mount

over

annual

budget,

and

now

had

to

wear

a

firefighter's

uniform

Refusal/Objection

In

2015,

Defendant

and

criminally

firearms,

inter

charged

alia.

to

work

to

Mayor

with

every

the

Thomas'

day.

Illegal

multiple

Rehirings

brother,

felony

Henry

counts

of

Defendant

George

involving

Thomas,

Mayor

was

possession

Thomas'

indicted

of

illegal

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23. Consequently,

position

as

a

Henry

Mount

Thomas

was

Vernon

firefighter.

forced

to

resign

in

January

2016

from

his

24. In

March

Thomas

George

25. However,

this

illegal

2016,

and

his

Thomas

Plaintiff

activity,

during

father,

back

Plaintiff's

tenure

as

Henry

Thomas

a

firefighter.

as

Sr.,

openly

which

objected

caused

a

to

their

substantial

Fire

Commissioner,

demanded

demands

danger

that

and

and

Defendant

Plaintiff

re-hire

Mayor

Henry

refused

threat

to

to

the

participate

community

at

large

by

26. Specifically,

that

was

he

would

illegal,

having

in

such

March

not

agree,

unethical,

a

dangerous

2016,

Plaintiff

participate

and

violated

person

on

told

or

Mayor

perform

numerous

the

job.

Thomas

such

actions

charter

and

rules

the

because

Mayor's

he

father

knew

and

regulations

in

it

governing

return

firefighters,

person

Plaintiff

due

to

Mayor

very

dangerous

to

at

Mayor

the

and

therefore

created

Defendants

possessed

and

was

that

a

the

a

substantial

that

illegal

his

own

firearms

father's

about

his

danger

brother

on

the

illegal

refusal

such

to

work.

reminded

27. Remarkably,

killed

in

Vernon.

28. Plaintiff

personal,

an

illegal

29. Plaintiff

Thomas

1996

took

and

and

stated

had

a

felon

Thomas

serious

-

act.

Thomas

and

time,

were

who

Mayor's

adamant

felony

threat

convictions,

to

the

particularly

community

reasonably

believed

that

Henry

George

Thomas

did

not

have

a

Civil

Service

Regulations

to

be

reinstated

to

the

position

he

had

to

the

was

streets

public

to

shot

of

and

Mount

demands

to

perform

very

such

and

the

kind

therefore

Henry

he

legal

resigned

right

under

from.

30. Plaintiff

would

feared

have

Henry

resulted

George

in

potential

Thomas

civil

was

and

a

threat

criminal

to

the

liabilities

community

taken

and

against

his

him

hiring

and

the

City.

31. Furthermore,

to

this

event

former

Public

and

objected

Safety

to

this

Commissioner

illegal

activity

Robert

by

Mayor

(Bob)

Thomas

32.

Plaintiff's

Moreover,

actions

for

refusal

Bob

to

Kelly

independent

allow

this

demanded

review

illegal

an

-

and

re-hiring

to

occur.

investigation

of

the

Mayor's

put

this

in

an

email

copied

Kelly

-

is

and

a

"fraudulent"

to

Plaintiff,

witness

joined

illegal

Terry

in

5

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O'Neil,

Esq.,

Mayor

Thomas,

Esq.,

33. Rather

and

Jerry

than

Kremer,

accepting

Esq.

Plaintiff's

Defendants

began

a

campaign

March

34. First,

phone

2016

Mayor

at

the

to

the

Thomas

MVFD

present.

and

Mayor

Headquarters

35. Specifically,

Commissioner

both

for

stated

his

to

refusal

Mt.

Vernon

Corporation

Counsel

ethical

commands

as

the

of

retaliation

Thomas'

and

Plaintiff

his

that

to

follow

against

father

personal

he

their

Plaintiff

frequently

phone

should

orders

to

be

and

for

Lawrence

Porcari,

Fire

his

Commissioner,

objections

from

called

Plaintiff's

verbally

removed

threaten

as

office

him.

Fire

should

be

replaced

36.

by

someone

Plaintiff

was

supervisors,

and

allegiance

who

will

follow

what

also

St.

John

frequently

and

harassed

Salahuddin,

to

Mayor

Thomas.

they

need

and

done.

humiliated

who

caused

this

in

the

harassment

workplace

at

the

by

his

direction

37.

Specifically,

both

"faggot",

"fake

"piece

brother",

his

Caucasian

intimidate

Plaintiff

St.

John

and

of

for

male

shit",

refusing

"white

the

co-workers,

Salahuddin

frequently

boy

Mayor's

lover",

demands

"caterer

and

which

St.

John

and

for

same

as

perceived

homosexuality.

call

Plaintiff

to

the

Plaintiff's

Salahuddin

white

open

to

boys"

date

support

harass

a

and

of

and

38.

These

present.

comments

and

acts

of

retaliation

have

endured

from

January

2016

to

the

39.

40.

Further,

2016,

nearly

Plaintiff

every

received

bi-weekly

threatening

by

such

Henry

as

George

Lt.

Justin

Thomas,

Chase

asking

and

him,

a

black

male.

pay

period

phone

him

why

Firefighter

between

calls

Plaintiff

Joseph

January

inside

the

2016

through

Commissioner's

was

paying

Portocelli,

"the

instead

white

of

August

Office

boys"

paying

It was

Henry

cause

evident

George

such

to

Plaintiff

Thomas,

retaliation.

that

to

Mayor

make

Thomas

allowed

those

threatening

his

phone

father,

calls

and

to

his

brother,

Plaintiff

and

Plai_ntiff's

Own

Discrimination

41. In

approximately

July

promote,

then-Captain,

and

Objection

to

Race-Based

2016,

Plaintiff

was

ordered

Jimmy

Lang

("Lang")

 

6

to

the

by

Promotions

Defendant

rank

of

Deputy

Mayor

Chief.

Thomas

to

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Plaintiff

42. agreed

to

said

promotion

as

the

Fire

Commissioner

at

that

time

and

requested

promotional

43. Although

Thomas

ceremony

44. When

responded

Lang's

family

ceremony.

ceremony.

Lang's

family

abruptly

changed

to

physically

his

appear

at

appeared

mind

the

and

Plaintiff

decided

not

confronted

to

promote

Mayor

Lang

Thomas

City

Hall

at

day

that

City

of

day.

about

that

he

wanted

to

promote,

then-Captain

the

Hall

the

his

following

for

the

ceremony,

actions,

Salahuddin

Monday

ceremony,

cancelled

Mayor

first

for

a

Mayor

the

Thomas

instead

of

Lang,

despite

45. made

Plaintiff

Caucasian

Salahuddin

it

male,

very

clear

because

46.

previous

Specifically,

promotions

Mayor

had

Thomas'

scoring

to

Mayor

lower

than

Thomas

he

knew

it

was

been

made

under

Lang

that

on

he

racially

the

City's

the

promotional

objected

to

motivated

policies.

skipping

due

test.

to

decision

to

promote

Salahuddin

over

Lang

Lang,

the

way

was

direct

deviation

from

the

MVFD's

current

protocol

to

promote

from

the

promotional

a

a

47.

48.

49.

by

This

rank

was

retaliation

order.

a

policy

against

created

Plaintiff

by

and

Plaintiff

his

that

rank,

Mayor

and

to

was

foster

directly

obstruction

a

race-based

the

Mayor's

Further,

all

crony

other

Salahuddin.

rank

promotions

from

the

list

were

firefighters.

skip

over

Plaintiff

create

a

the

Mayor

promotion

Thomas

of

openly

serious

objected

racial

to

issue

only

Lang,

the

on

stopped

promoting

the

Caucasian

in

firefighter.

the

Mayor

the

job.

skipping

the

promotion

for