The town on Monday moved to dismiss parts of a civil lawsuit brought by a New Canaan firefighter claiming that municipal officials for years failed to address multiple instances of abuse by a superior in the department.
In a motion filed in U.S. District Court (embedded below as a PDF), the town seeks to dismiss the firefighter’s claim of intentional inaction of emotional distress, saying he “fails to plead conduct amounting to extreme and outrageous conduct under Connecticut law.”
The firefighter also doesn’t make a case for hostile work environment or discriminatory practices, according to the motion to dismiss filed by attorneys Claire Ryan and Jonathan Zellner of Stamford-based Ryan Ryan Deluca LLP, because he “1. fails to plead facts showing that he experienced severe and pervasive harassment related to some protected characteristic; 2. fails to plead facts showing that he suffered an adverse employment action under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, perceived sexual orientation, or interracial association; and 3. fails to plead facts showing that he was treated differently from employees outside his protected class, respectively.”
The response from the town does not explicitly address five of the nine counts listed in the firefighter’s complaint, filed by Shelton-based attorney Michael Lynch of Lynch Law Group LLC. Those include negligent supervision of employees, negligent retention of employees, retaliation in violation of Title VII of Civil Rights Act, retaliation under Connecticut Fair Employment Practices and negligence. However, the town’s answer does say, “The Defendant also moves to dismiss those portions of each of the Plaintiff’s claims for which the underlying conduct falls outside the applicable limitations period, as the continuing-violation and continuing course of conduct doctrines do not render such conduct actionable for purposes of those claims.”
The plaintiff is a 41-year-old white male hired as a full-time firefighter in 2006, according to the complaint.
According to the lawsuit, filed April 7, a captain in the New Canaan Fire Department over the course of nearly one dozen years made overtly racist and homophobic comments to him, while singling him out through criticisms, quashing his bids for promotion and hampering his ability to earn wages through overtime. The captain nicknamed him ‘Toby’ or ‘Kunta Kinte,’ referring to the African slave from the movie “Roots,” according to the complaint, and called him ‘Kunta Kinte’ or ‘Toby’ in the workplace on multiple occasions in the presence of others. He wrote the words ‘I love [racial slur in the plural]’ in large letters on the passenger side of the firefighter’s vehicle while it was parked in a Fire Department lot, according to the complaint, and the plaintiff drove it around town not knowing what was written there. In another instance, while the firefighter attended a fundraiser at the firehouse with his young minor son, the captain approached them and said that ‘your son has a [expletive] sucking face just like his father’ and grabbed the Plaintiff’s minor son’s hand and said to the Plaintiff’s minor son: ‘I know you like penis,’ ” the complaint said. The captain “repeatedly mocked and insulted the Plaintiff, calling the Plaintiff ‘stupid,’ ‘retarded,’ ‘lazy,’ ‘[expletive] sucker,’ ‘incompetent,’ and ‘the department clown.’ [The captain] has also told the Plaintiff ‘I hope your kids are [homophobic slur in the plural],’ ” the complaint said.
In its motion, the town also denied the plaintiff’s claim of breach of contract, “for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
The legal memo in support of the town’s motion to dismiss also is embedded below as a PDF.
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