Westchester firefighter says supervisor 'outed' him

May 11, 2011 2:46:20 PM PDT
A veteran firefighter in Westchester says he's been harassed so badly on the job, he's filing a lawsuit.

He says a supervisor outed him as being gay.

And the taunting that followed from his fellow White Plains firefighters, he says was unbearable.

He's been a firefighter for 17 years, but today Steven Saunders was at a courthouse instead of a firehouse. Saunders is suing the city of White Plains for harassment and discrimination.

The 43-year old is a third generation fireman.

In July 2008 he confided to a deputy chief that he was gay. Saunders says he was instructed not to tell anyone. But a few months later he claims the same deputy chief told other firefighters in order to address rumors of Saunders' sexual orientation. That's when he says the trouble began.

Saunders says when he complained he was allegedly told by a supervisor to "keep your mouth shut about it...and get thicker skin, because everyone gets teased."

Saunders says despite assurances from the chief of department the situation was never addressed- and that he was re-assigned to be a driver allegedly so others firefighters wouldn't have to sleep in the same room as him.

Saunders, a father of three says he hopes the lawsuit sends a message.

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