Anthony Harper, NYC Firefighter, Says He Was Mistreated Because He's Vegetarian

Anthony Harper vegetarian discrimination FDNY

Employees have been victims of all kinds of discrimination -- sex, race, religion, age, weight. But a New York City firefighter, Anthony Harper, is alleging that he was ostracized by his co-workers because of his diet: He's a vegetarian.

Harper switched to a meat-free diet two years ago and began refusing to chip in for the communal meals at the Greenpoint, Brooklyn, firehouse, reports the New York Post. Soon after his co-workers began harassing him verbally and physically, he claims. He also found his assignments reduced, according to a complaint he filed with the New York Fire Department.

"It's a culture where you eat what everybody else eats," the eight-year FDNY veteran told the Post, "and if it's not what you are accustomed to -- and you want to slim down and lose weight and won't eat it -- well, it leads to problems."

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He made the decision to become a vegetarian (and give up cigars) when he was on the verge of becoming a first-time father and wanted to improve his health. "I was fat," he said. His co-workers began teasing him, he said, then their reactions quickly degenerated into physical confrontations, including a fellow firefighter head-butting him.

When he complained, he said, he was reassigned to an administrative function. The only tasks he's now given are to "push buttons on a computer to print out medical forms," he told the Post.

A New York Fire Department Department spokesman dismissed Harper's claims, calling them "nonsense."

"Firehouses across the city have individuals who are vegetarians or who have special diets -- i.e., food allergies, etc. -- and they are accommodated all the time," FDNY spokesman Jim Long told the Post.

Currently, Harper says, he's waiting to hear back about whether he'll be promoted to lieutenant as well as for a hearing date on his complaint.

In 2009, a Wall Street trader claimed that his refusal to eat meat actually led to his firing. Ryan Pacifico filed a discrimination lawsuit charging that his co-workers and boss taunted him as a "homo" because he wouldn't eat steak with them. Pacifico said he never considered changing his diet to fit in with his colleagues. "The concept of eating animals just blows my mind," he told The New York Daily News.

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Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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jemccjr

You can make lieutenant in 8 years. Ahhhh so there it is, pumping up the chances for promotion by being a "victim" then claim retaliation for bringing in sunshine Next.

November 27 2012 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John

"is waiting to hear back if he is being promoted to lieutenant" I wonder if this is playing a role in his complaint...if he is promoted he will drop the complaint?
Does the whole world manipulate however they can any more to get what they want?

November 27 2012 at 9:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard

Another reason why I left NYC ... the idiots who live and work there ... no doubt this guy was ridden by the dimbulbs who man the firetrucks ...

November 27 2012 at 8:56 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Richard's comment
savoiechalmette1

and that from a person with no bulb(dim or otherwise)

November 27 2012 at 10:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ashumate3

Cows, goats, lamb and/or sheep, rattlesnake, deer, pork, chicken, goose, duck, fish and some people eat horses. There are people that eat rabbit, squirrel, ground hog (whistle pig), and raccoon and there are meats that taste good if prepared right. If you want to be a vegetarian that’s fine but try to force it on other people. This guy is trying to force his belief on others from the tenor of this story.

November 27 2012 at 8:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
etinamax

He probably was headbutted for no reason at all. But he will have the last laugh when all his fellow-workers develop heart disease, cancer etc. from the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). When a person chooses to be different this is what unfortunately happens. I believe what he is claiming is credible.

November 27 2012 at 8:04 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
AL

Frikkin' hose-dragger

November 27 2012 at 6:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Keri C

I am stunned to hear a fireman bullied FOR ANYTHING. Those men NEED TO BE BEST FRIENDS.
And eat what they want considering THEIR BODIES SAVE US.
SHAME ON ANY IDIOT WHO STOOPS TO BULLYING.
Hugs to Anthony Harper.
From all women who care!

November 27 2012 at 6:25 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Keri C

im stunned by a firefighter, Anthony Harper for being bullied. Firemen SHOULD BE BEST FRIENDS...
shameful...My God....and a man like that who has to be in perfect health and ABILITIES...SHOULD EAT AS HE WANTS.

November 27 2012 at 6:24 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
rb

Someone told me once....if you look around and everybody else seems all scr*wed up, maybe it's not everybody else.

November 27 2012 at 6:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
danno

Should be a couple mill over nothing of course..For this is new york and with that liberal jury he will be cashing that check with-in eight weeks or so..

November 27 2012 at 12:49 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

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