Firefighter Scorched over T-Shirt Smashing Affirmative Action

Michael Gartland, New York Post, September 12, 2014

The FDNY is hosing one of its own for wearing an ­anti-affirmative-action T-shirt–just a week after Mayor de Blasio told city employees it’s up to them how they dress at work.

Thomas Buttaro, a 12-year FDNY veteran who works at Ladder 123 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, faces disciplinary charges for wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a “Merit Matters” logo while on duty.

Merit Matters

“They’re disciplining him for something they’ve never disciplined anyone for before,” said Buttaro’s lawyer, Adam Weiss. “It’s a First Amendment issue. This is about the right of someone being able to express an opinion. It’s not about discrimination.”

Buttaro, who is white, got into hot water in May 2012 after he and a black colleague argued over a lawsuit filed years earlier by the Vulcan Society, Weiss said.

The Vulcans, a fraternal group of black firefighters, won a discrimination lawsuit last March that resulted in a $100 million settlement to minorities after the FDNY entrance exam was ruled biased.

Merit Matters–self-described as “an advocacy group dedicated to preserving merit in FDNY testing”–is opposed to changing the admissions process to give minorities a leg up over white recruits.


{snip} An FDNY source noted the department has stricter rules than the school system because it’s structured along paramilitary lines.

“We have rules about what you can wear in the firehouse,” the insider said. “We’re a uniformed agency. You can’t wear this in the firehouse. Our lawyers are going to argue that this was intentional and designed to antagonize a colleague.”

The source also claimed Buttaro wore other, more offensive shirts, but Weiss says he only wore them off duty, including one which says, “MADD: Minorities Against Dumbing Down” and “getting it the old fashioned way–earning it.”


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