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Former Warren firefighter claims discrimination, harassment in federal lawsuit

Posted: 6:46 PM, Dec 04, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-04 18:46:19-05

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts called a lawsuit filed by a former firefighter alleging racial discrimination "utterly ridiculous."

But on Monday, a jury in federal court is set to begin hearing the case in which Jose Suarez claims he was subjected to racial slurs by fellow firefighters and his superiors while at work. 

Suarez claims one lieutenant told him that "Cubans were just like (n-word)."

Suarez, who is of Cuban descent, claims he often heard firefighters using the words "chimps" and "spooks" to refer to African Americans. 

Suarez's attorney Jim Rasor told 7 Action News that when his client complained, he was told to drop it and called a traitor and a snitch, but that Suarez continued to "fight for what was right."

Mayor Fouts pointed out that Fire Commissioner Skip McAdams is African American, and he said that it doesn't make sense that a "white Cuban" would suggest that McAdams would tolerate discrimination. 

City attorney Ethan Vinson, who is also African American, said the lawsuit is without merit.  

"That's garbage and hogwash," said Vinson. "His (Suarez) initial complaint didn't even deal with the allegation of anything racial. 

A settlement conference is set for later this week.

Vinson said a settlement is possible, simply because the case has been a nuisance. 

Click on the video to watch the report.