Former EMT Files $8M Lawsuit Against Berlin Fire Company - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Former EMT Files $8M Lawsuit Against Berlin Fire Company

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BERLIN, Md. - In a 13 page complaint, Zachery Tyndall, a former EMT and volunteer firefighter with the Berlin Fire Company, alleges members of the fire company repeatedly harassed him, using homophobic slurs during 2012.
The suit says Mr. Tyndall doesn't identify as homosexual, his lawyer, James Otway, says "it really doesn't matter if he is or he isn't.  It's their perception of him and how they treated him because of that."

The $8 million lawsuit, which only names four individuals, and the fire company, claims the defendants took the discrimination so far as to not help Tyndall take care of a car accident victim in December of 2012.

After what the complaint says were numerous attempts to rectify the situation internally, turmoil spilled past the walls of the firehouse, when Tyndall went to Berlin's Human Resource director with his complaints.

After conducting its own investigation, town representatives found the allegations credible, leading the Town to cut the nearly $600,000 in funding allocated to the fire company.

Berlin Town Mayor Gee Williams tells WMDT "the decision by the mayor and council to terminate all funding for the Berlin Fire Company was a direct result of the inability of the Town to have a positive influence on the fire company in eliminating all forms of workplace harassment."

WMDT reached out to the Fire Company since obtaining a copy of the lawsuit, but no one has returned our phone calls.

When we spoke to Fire Company President David Fitzgerald about the issue in November 2012, "the fire company hired an attorney and did our own investigation and those items of discrimination were not found."

While there's no word on whether or not there is physical evidence of the discrimination: emails, phone or text message, Tyndall's lawyer tells WMDT he believes their case is strong.

"There are people that are independent of either side.  Independent of the Fire Company,  independent of my client, who I believe will corroborate everything that he has said," says Otway.

A court date will not likely be set for another 60 days.

This summer, the Town has been talking with the Fire Company to try and re-establish funding some degree of funding, and will consider making a budget amendment to allow some level of funding to be reinstated at next council meeting on Sept 9th.  The Town of Berlin is now requiring extensive review of the Fire Company's finances.

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