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Gay firefighter suing for harassment after being outed by fire chief

Gay firefighter suing for harassment after being outed by fire chief
Steven Saunders

A gay firefighter in White Plains, N.Y. is suing the city and the fire department, alleging he has been harassed, discriminated against and forced to endure a hostile work environment because of his sexual orientation.

Steven Saunders, a 17-year fire veteran, said he hasn’t been able to do his job for almost a year now, because after confiding to the deputy chief that he is gay, fellow firefighters turned against him, reported USA Today.

In papers filed in state Supreme Court, Saunders, 43, said that after rumors about his sexuality began spreading in 2008, he informed his superiors that he was gay and was told by Deputy Fire Chief Richard Houlihan not to tell anyone, “especially anyone in the Fire Bureau.”

The lawsuit alleges that, without permission, Houlihan then outed Saunders by telling others in the department that he was gay.

Saunders claimed that one firefighter, while making sexual gestures, yelled to another firefighter that he wanted him to “suck his dick” and that he was then going to “give it to him up the ass.” He said he was also subjected to comments about “fags” and “cocksuckers.”

Despite his complaints, the court papers say supervisors did nothing to stop it.

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