A Gay, Black San Francisco firefighter has filed a lawsuit against his department for alleged harassment and discrimination over his sexuality and his race.
23-year-old Keith Baraka is suing the San Francisco Fire Department for the “nightmarish series of events” that occurred while he 11 years with the department. This includes being called derogatory names and racial slurs or having his locker broken into and his belongings stolen. Keith Baraka also says that sometimes the “non-black” occupants “would stand up and leave” if he entered the kitchen while they were inside.
Baraka, who filed the lawsuit on January 19, says that the harassment began after he put a rainbow pride sticker on his helmet “to communicate that he was a member of the community that was being served by Station 6,” according to CBS’s San Francisco affiliate. The city, however, denies Baraka’s claims.
Baraka also says that he filed six separate complaints of discrimination with the San Francisco Department of Human Resources. But he says, his coworkers and leadership retaliated by denying him promotions. Then, he requested a new assignment. When Baraka moved to another fire station, he “experienced a different culture” where he felt “valued and respected.”
In 2014, Keith Baraka noted that there were several other LGBTQ employees that were experiencing similar situations. Together with some colleagues, Baraka created the LGBTQ employee support group “ResQ.”
In response to the current lawsuit, a spokesperson for the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office said, “Privacy protections in personnel matters limit what we can publicly say, and we’re not going to try this case in the press. Mr. Baraka brought this complaint in a court of law, so that is where we will address it.”
Source: CBS San Francisco,