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Cal Fire Under Fire in Latest Discrimination Lawsuit

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

A recent employment discrimination lawsuit filed against Cal Fire alleges that a gay male firefighter was told to stop flaunting his sexuality, was shunned, and even told his "kind" were not welcome.

While these allegations may seem rather wild, the case is also filed against Division Chief John Paul Melendrez, who has a reputation for being "psychotic," "tyrannical," and "yelling for effect." Melendrez was also the subject of an official investigation while leading the Owens Valley camp, where an investigator found that "The environment is so bad at Owens Valley camp it is beginning to affect people physically." Nevertheless, Melendrez didn't seem to suffer any real consequences as a result.

Details of the Discrimination

According to the SacBee report, the plaintiff, Dru Snider was ostensibly being forced into medical retirement because his complaints resulted in him being shunned. Although he could work, he was denied assignment to a station that did not handle a high volume of car accidents, which were a trigger for his PTSD. His PTSD was the result of seeing a fellow firefighter commit suicide.

In 2015, when he started his assignment in Melendrez's employ, Snider was directly asked what was wrong with him, in a pejorative manner, by his chief. Snider's lawsuit alleges that he was berated in front of colleagues, unfairly denied vacation, and made fun of (due to his sexual orientation) behind his back.

Interestingly, apparently, after Cal Fire "counseled" Melendrez in 2016, there have been no further incidents.

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