Brookline (MA) Firefighter Sues for Alleged Racial Slur

A Brookline (MA) firefighter is suing the town for what he claims was a racial slur left on his voicemail by a superior officer who months later was honored at the White House for valor, reports The Boston Globe.

In a lawsuit filed in Norfolk Superior Court in June, Brookline Firefighter Gerald Alston claims that in late May 2010 then Lt. Paul R. Pender left him a voicemail with the slur and an expletive on it.

Alston, who is African American, complained to his superior officers and human resources in June 2010, and the town’s investigation found that Pender was not directing his comments towards Alston but towards a driver on the road at the time Pender was leaving the voice message, according to the suit.

Pender was suspended without pay for a few days for violating the code of conduct, according to the suit. But Alston claims that after he complained to the town he has been ostracized by Pender and other firefighters in the department, according to the suit.

Pender, who has since been promoted to captain, told the Globe Friday that the issue was resolved a while back and he did not know why it was coming back up. He declined to comment further. Patricia Correa, an attorney for the town, said she would not comment on the case because it is ongoing litigation.

The alleged incident occurred just months before Pender and two other Brookline firefighters received the nation’s highest award for public service, the Medal of Valor, in a September 2010 ceremony at the White House led by Vice President Joseph Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Pender was honored for rushing into a burning and partially collapsed building in Brookline in 2008 to help rescue a fellow firefighter. Pender and three other firefighters were treated for second-degree burns from the fire.

Alston filed the lawsuit against the town of Brookline in June about a month after Pender was promoted to the rank of captain.

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