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Long Island

Former FDNY firefighter from LI files federal civil rights suit

A former FDNY firefighter from Long Island claims in a new federal lawsuit in Brooklyn that he was fired for wearing a T-shirt protesting affirmative action programs, in violation of his First Amendment rights.

Thomas A. Buttaro, a 16-year veteran from Suffolk County, said he was fired for wearing T-shirts that had the logo of "Merit Matters" -- a group that opposed court-ordered changes to increase minority hiring at the FDNY -- and slogans including, "Getting This The Old-Fashioned Way -- Earning It!"

He said in the lawsuit he was fired for creating a hostile work environment after complaints from a minority firefighter, but he claimed that was a pretext and his firing was set in motion because he publicly objected to hiring plans at a Brooklyn federal court hearing.

The suit described the firing as part of a policy to "eliminate dissent within the rank and file ... about racial quotas and diluted employment standards."

A spokesman for the city law department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

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