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10-12-2012, 09:25 AM

Firefighter in court fight vs. FDNY suspended after positive pot test: sources
Suspended for pot

Posted: 12:39 AM, October 11, 2012

He was riding high after a landmark federal-court victory — and then apparently got even higher.

A black city firefighter who was one of the named plaintiffs in the bitter court fight to force the FDNY to hire more minorities has been suspended from duty after testing positive for marijuana, sources told The Post.

Firefighter First Grade Kevin Simpkins, 45, began his suspension without pay last Thursday, according to an FDNY document.

Simpkins’ suspension is due to end on Nov. 2, the document said.

He then has been ordered “to report in dress uniform” to the FDNY’s Bureau of Health Services on Nov. 5, and then to the Bureau of Investigation and Trials.

The document did not state the reason for the suspension — which will cost Simpkins about $6,400 in salary, not including overtime he could have earned.

But sources said Simpkins’ sanction stemmed from him failing a drug test that revealed he had marijuana in his system.

Simpkins is a member of the Vulcan Society, which represents black FDNY members.

He is also one of the few individuals named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the city in Brooklyn federal court that has compelled a redesign of the FDNY entrance exam and hiring process to get more minorities into the overwhelmingly white department.

The US Justice Department originally filed the suit, but the Vulcans and several individual members, including Simpkins, later intervened in the case as plaintiffs.

Last year, Judge Nicholas Garaufis, in a damning ruling against the city, said a special monitor was needed to make sure the FDNY takes steps to correct the racial imbalance in its ranks, where blacks account for just 3 percent of all firefighters.

The city is appealing the decision, which threatens to cost New York $128 million in damages.

There was no answer when a reporter knocked on Simpkins’ door last night, or when a call was placed to his home.

An FDNY spokesman declined to comment.

The Bobster
08-25-2014, 11:19 AM

FDNY firefighter accused of marijuana use claims discrimination
By Scott Moore
August 24, 2014 | 4:19am

Firefighter Kevin Simpkins
Photo: Matthew Mc Dermott

The FDNY is trying to ax a black firefighter — who allegedly tested positive for marijuana — before he can retire on a three-quarters disability pension.

If he wins, firefighter Kevin Simpkins, who made $97,500 in 2013, would receive a lifelong, tax-free pension of 75 percent of his last 12 months’ pay. :mad:

If fired, he would get 50 percent, and the payments would not start until 2023.

In a racially charged administrative trial, Simpkins, 46, denied using pot. He contends the FDNY targeted him in retaliation for his involvement with the Vulcan Society, a fraternity of black firefighters. He was one of seven named plaintiffs in the Vulcans’ 2007 discrimination lawsuit, which the city settled in March for $98 million — mostly in back pay for blacks passed over by the FDNY. Simpkins, who was already hired, will get less than $10,000, said his lawyer, Peter Gleason.

“The FDNY is using random drug testing to go *after ‘enemies of the state,’ ” Gleason argued at Simpkins’ hearing.

Simpkins, who joined the FDNY 11 years ago after serving in the Navy and at other jobs, testified that he was ostracized and taunted by fellow Bravest at Engine 233 in Brooklyn. “I was called a *n—-r, a lowlife, a chimp,” he said, adding: “The treatment I received escalated because I was a Vulcan member.”

Last September, Simpkins, along with three white firefighters and their commanding officer on a night shift, was picked for urine testing.

The FDNY said Simpkins had traces of marijuana. Gleason is challenging the results. Pending his trial, the FDNY assigned Simpkins to its audio-visual unit in Brooklyn.

Last Nov. 1, Simpkins was driving back after an assignment when he collided with a car that entered the intersection against a red light. Lab tests on Simpkins showed no sign of drugs.

He underwent surgery for a torn rotator cuff and filed an application in March to retire on disability.

The Bobster
12-14-2014, 12:03 PM

Judge recommends firing firefighter who tested positive for weed
By Susan Edelman
December 14, 2014 | 5:02am

A black firefighter — who argued his positive test for marijuana was rigged because of racism — ought to be fired, a city administrative judge has recommended.

In September 2013, the FDNY conducted random urine testing on Kevin Simpkins, along with three white firefighters and their commanding officer. But Simpkins, 47, denied smoking pot, claiming the FDNY targeted him in retaliation for his involvement in a $98 million discrimination lawsuit against the city by the Vulcan Society, a fraternity of black firefighters.

Administrative law Judge Astrid Gloade rejected that argument as well as Simpkins’ testimony that he underwent a 30-day drug-and-alcohol rehab program to “show integrity,” even though he didn’t need it.

Gloade wrote she might have recommended a lesser penalty if Simpkins had “taken responsibility for his conduct and acknowledged that he had taken steps to address his use of marijuana.”

Gloade found Simpkins violated the department’s “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal drug use.

A final decision whether to boot Simpkins, an 11-year firefighter with no other disciplinary history, rests with Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

Simpkins’ lawyer, Pete Gleason, also a retired firefighter, said he will dispute the recommendation to Nigro, and cite examples of unequal treatment of white and black employees.
“The FDNY has a history of nepotism, cronyism and favoritism,” he charged.

The Bobster
02-10-2015, 08:33 AM

Firefighter claims FDNY boss ‘leaked’ his failed drug test
By Selim Algar
February 10, 2015 | 12:54am

Kevin Simpkins
Photo: Matthew McDermott

A firefighter who was a face of the FDNY hiring-discrimination suit that cost the city $98 million says a vengeful colleague blabbed to The Post about his testing positive for marijuana :rolleyes: — and now, he’s suing his Bravest bosses over it.

Kevin Simpkins, 47, who is still facing the ax over the positive 2012 drug test, claims his privacy was breached in retaliation for his role as one of the lead plaintiffs in the class-action case that resulted in an overhaul of hiring policies at the FDNY, including a monitor, and the massive settlement by the de Blasio administration with 1,500 plaintiffs last March.

In his new suit, filed in Brooklyn federal court, Simpkins claims that Battalion Chief Rory Houton leaked the results of his urine test to The Post and that the disclosure resulted in an unflattering article.

“These illegal acts were done to humiliate, intimidate, discredit and retaliate against Mr. Simpkins and other firefighters involved in challenging the FDNY’s racially discriminatory hiring practices,” the suit states

The disclosures caused “Mr. Simpkins, his wife and children severe shame, embarrassment, humiliation and emotional distress, as well as injury to Mr. Simpkins’ reputation,” the suit states. :rolleyes:

In addition, the suit alleges Houton and others passed along incorrect information about an on-duty auto accident involving Simpkins and his subsequent application for disability, which was also reported by The Post.

A firefighter since 2003, Simpkins joined the 2007 discrimination case after claiming his hiring was unnecessarily delayed because of a biased 1999 exam.

He was eventually appointed as a representative of the class of black firefighters who took on the city and emerged as one of the few named plaintiffs.

In his suit, Simpkins says he received a letter at his Queens home in October 2012 informing him that he had failed a drug test. The document listed 19 other “FDNY personnel” who also received a copy of the letter — including Houton, the suit states.

Calling the alleged leak a civil-rights violation, Simpkins’ attorney, Darius Charney, argued that FDNY regulations and state law prohibit the disclosure of personal information, including drug-test results.

Charney also blasted the FDNY’s Bureau of Investigations and Trials for failing to properly find the source by neglecting to subpoena key records that could have led to an unmasking.

Houton, the suit states, was the only person to object to the subpoenas.

The FDNY’s investigatory arm eventually found Simpkins’ claim of retaliation and improper disclosure “unsubstantiated,” according to the suit.

Houton declined to comment and Simpkins did not return a call for comment.

A city Law Department spokesman said the agency will review the lawsuit.

Citing pending litigation, the FDNY would not comment on the case.

The Bobster
02-12-2016, 07:21 AM

Former firefighter gets $55K settlement over drug test leak by FDNY brass
By Selim Algar
February 12, 2016 | 12:02am

A former firefighter has won a $55,000 settlement from two FDNY big wigs whom he accused of leaking the results of a positive drug test and other damaging info, The Post has learned. :mad:

Kevin Simpkins sued retired Battalion Chief Rory Houton and current Deputy Battalion Chief Paul Mannix in Brooklyn federal court, claiming they leaked the results of a marijuana test to The Post in 2012 after he helped lead a $98 million anti-hiring-discrimination suit against the city, according to court papers.

Mannix, the founder of the group Merit Matters, which opposed hiring quotas in the FDNY, is personally on the hook for $45,000. :mad:

He is slated to pay off Simpkins in 24 installments of $1,875, with the first sum due Monday, according to court documents.

Houton, meanwhile, will have to pay $10,000, court papers state.

Simpkins retired with a $73,500 disability pension last year, even though the FDNY wanted to fire him because he failed the drug test. :mad:

His attorney said at the time that those who leaked the results of the test “did him a huge favor,” because the leak was illegal and it gave Simpkins a lot of bargaining leverage against the city.

“These illegal acts were done to humiliate, intimidate, discredit and retaliate against Mr. Simpkins and other firefighters involved in challenging the FDNY’s racially discriminatory hiring practices,” another Simpkins lawyer, Darius Charney, wrote in court papers.

The terms of the suit state that the settlement does not admit guilt.

In addition to the marijuana leak, the suit charged that Houton and Mannix passed along incorrect information about the circumstances of an on-duty accident that was also reported in The Post.

Charney argued in the suit that the leaks were civil-rights violations because department and state regulations prohibit the disclosure of personal information.

Mannix was suspended by the FDNY for 50 days without pay for the leaks and his vocal opposition to diversity initiatives. Fellow firefighters launched a fund-raising Web site for Mannix to compensate him for an estimated $30,000 in lost pay.

None of the parties involved commented on the settlement, including the FDNY.