Amsterdam fireman fights discrimination suspension in court

Firefighters' gear
Firefighters gear. (Wikimedia Commons)

An Amsterdam firefighter appeared in court on Friday to fight his suspension for discirminatory behavior. This happened one day after Mayor Eberhard van der Laan discussed a about the culture within the city's fire department with the General Affairs committee. Van der Laan promised improvement, AT5 reports.

Commander Schaap was at the hearing, as the one to suspend the fire fighter. According to the commander, in December he launched an investigation into the firefighter when he heard tell of the firefighter making discriminatory statements about certain groups of people, according to Cecile van der Grift tweeting from inside the courtroom. These statements happened before Schaap started at the fire department. The commander heard that the statements included things like "cancer Moroccans", "black moneys" and scandalous statemetns about people with disabilities. According to the commander, the firefighter also walked around in the barracks in a sort of Nazi outfit.

Schaap decided to investigate the matter. He decided to suspend the firefighter until the investigation is complete. Schaap feared a repeat of the incidents and fighting in the barracks, which is why he decided it best to not have the firefighter at work for the time being. He suspended the firefighter for two months. The commander stated that he finds it remarkable that his predecessor never investigated the matter. 

The firefighter's lawyer can't understand why there is now suddenly an investigation, after it was previously determined that it was unnecessary. A letter dated 28 April 2016 stated that there will be no investigation because the department is focusing on the future. According to the lawyer, in his 21 years of serving as a firefighter, there is no suggestion of him making racist statemetns. 

The firefighter himself said that he finds it awful that he can not return to work and is not allowed in the barracks. According to him, the Nazi outfit accusation is nonsense. "I don't understand how I ended up here. I get the idea that the fire department commander simply wants to make an example. And I am the plaything", he told the court. "I can not agree with the statements. I only once walked in the barracks in my underpants with a cap on. It's firefighter humor."

The commander added that he is just trying to do his job, and that he has nothing personally against the firefighter. The court will rule in this case on Fabruary 17th at the latest.