Five FDNY fire protection inspectors filed a class-action lawsuit Friday accusing the city of paying them less than department of building inspectors because they have 20 percent fewer white workers.
The disparity in pay for the city’s approximately 400 fire inspectors and 625 building inspectors cannot be explained by differences in job duties, which are similar, issuing licenses, fees and fines, the discrimination suit says.
“All the evidence points toward the difference in the racial composition of the two groups of employees being the reason that FPIs are paid so much less than building inspectors,” said attorney Michael Lieder in a statement. “The FDNY has a history of treating fire protection inspectors as second-class employees.”
The suit says that 50 percent of all building inspectors are white while only 30 percent of all fire inspectors are white. This has caused fire inspectors to earn approximately $9,000 less on average a year than building inspectors, the suit charges
“It is tragic that these brave men and women are out every day inspecting our multi-family residences, stores and offices to prevent fires while we shelter from the pandemic and New York City won’t pay them fairly,” said attorney Robert Valli who is also representing the class-action.
The suit says that state fire inspectors are paid more than their city counterparts whereas the reverse is true for building inspectors.
The filing also accuses the FDNY of providing fire inspectors with less safety protection than firefighters and EMS employees. Two inspectors died after contracting COVID-19, the suit says.
The fire inspectors, who must enter buildings and interact with people every day, are not given masks and only receive one set of gloves a week, the filing charges.
Fire protection inspectors Darryl Chalmers, Darren Connors, Glenn Mendez, James Noval and Fatima Rosemond are suing the city for damages, including back pay and lost overtime pay and for a higher salary.
A spokesman for the city’s law department, Nick Paolucci, said, “The FDNY has made great strides in diversifying its workforce and takes seriously any claim of discrimination.”
The spokesman added that fire protection inspectors have been properly outfitted with safety equipment.
“The health and safety of all FDNY employees is a top priority for the agency,” Paolucci said in a statement. “The FDNY has provided all the appropriate safety gear to fire inspectors pursuant to CDC and Health Department guidelines so that they can perform their work during the pandemic. That equipment includes surgical masks which were provided before they were mandated for all city employees.”
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