A former Pennsylvania fire captain has filed suit against a fire department claiming race discrimination and harassment.
Tarence Mosey, 22, filed suit this week in US District Court against Logan Township United Fire Department accusing its members and its leadership of an assortment of racially offensive and discriminatory acts culminating with his demotion and termination in 2014. Mosey claims the harassment was so bad he developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The PTSD may come into play as Mosey faces some legal challenges of his own. In 2015 he was arrested for drunk driving, and three days later he was involved in a fatal accident that claimed the life of a woman and her unborn child. Mosey pled guilty to the earlier DWI charge and the investigation into the fatal accident continues.
In his suit against the United Fire Department, Mosey claims he was subjected to numerous racially offensive epitaphs, physical assaults, race-based denials of training opportunities, and a race-based termination. Mosey, who described himself as “an African American, black adult male” in the complaint, claims he is the first and only African American on the United Fire Department.
From the complaint:
Mosey was a member of Defendant’s fire department from November 2007 through February 2014.
On a daily basis throughout Mr. Mosey’s employment, several employees of Defendant … called Plaintiff a “n[-word]”… a “porch monkey”… a “koon”… [and]… a “spook”.
These racial slurs, referenced above, including “n[word]”, “porch monkey”, “koon” and “spook”, were also voiced directly from Defendant’s supervisory personnel.
On numerous occasions, these racial slurs were directed at Mr. Mosey in front of other individuals, causing him extreme anxiety, embarrassment, degradation and humiliation.
While working on the job, Mr. Mosey was physically assaulted on two occasions by co-workers.
In early 2012 (the first instance), Croft took his steel-toe boot and kicked Mr. Mosey in his testicles because Mr. Mosey asked Croft for assistance with taking the trash out.
Mosey wrote a formal complaint to Defendant’s supervisory personnel as a result of such occurrence, yet received no response.
Mosey was also assaulted by Wilkes in late 2012 while Plaintiff was asleep on the second floor of Defendant’s premises.
Mosey immediately contacted Lunglhofer to address the incident.
Lunglhofer responded by pleading with Mr. Mosey not to report such assault to the police out of fear that it would put a “black eye” on Defendant, which, in and of itself, is an interesting use of that phrase given the circumstances.
Lunglhofer merely suspended Wilkes, but refused to terminate him.
Upon Wilkes’ return, Wilkes continued to harass Mr. Mosey, out of retaliation for Mr. Mosey’s complaint, and Defendant permitted it to happen.
In Mr. Mosey’s career with Defendant, he wrote nearly twenty (20) formal complaints regarding the aforementioned discriminatory and retaliatory conduct based on his race to Defendant’s supervisory personnel.
Defendant’s typical response, often voiced by Schoenfelt and Lunglhofer was, “We have a lot going on right now, and we’ll deal with it later.”
Such grave mistreatment of Mr. Mosey by Defendant has caused and led Mr. Mosey to be diagnosed and treated with post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) in early 2014 following the past incidents that occurred with Defendant.
Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.