Lyndelle Phillips has been awarded $1.1 million for wrongful termination.
Lyndelle Phillips has been awarded $1.1 million for wrongful termination.

Woman fired after questioning boss’ affair

An ex-Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) official who confronted former Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano about an alleged sexual relationship with a hot pants-wearing employee has settled a lawsuit against the city for $US800,000 ($A1,161,000), reports the New York Post.

Lyndelle Phillips, a lawyer and former assistant commissioner for the FDNY's Equal Employment Opportunity Office, said she was fired in 2012 in part because she questioned the married Cassano about his alleged office affair.

Ms Phillips said she fell out of favour with FDNY brass after looking into a formal complaint in 2009 that Mr Cassano was showing "favouritism" to a female supervisor he was romantically involved with.

Ms Phillips said she saw framed photos in the supervisor's office showing her "wearing short 'hot pants' while embracing" Mr Cassano, then chief of the department.

"It was common knowledge that Cassano's supervisor friend had privileges and access to the Chief that other employees did not have based on the alleged sexual relationship with Chief Cassano," the suit said.

Lyndelle Phillips was fired after questioning her boss’ affair.
Lyndelle Phillips was fired after questioning her boss’ affair.

Ms Phillips advised Mr Cassano to remove the photos "to avoid the appearance of impropriety", the suit said.

In 2010, shortly after Mr Cassano was promoted to commissioner, his first deputy commissioner, Daniel Shacknai, ordered Ms Phillips to turn over the file on the favouritism complaint.

Ms Phillips reluctantly turned it over and "never saw the file again", the suit says.

Brooklyn federal judge Cheryl Pollak later ordered the FDNY to produce the file, but the department insisted it was lost.

In March 2011, Mr Cassano told Ms Phillips, who is black, that she would be replaced as EEO chief. She was forced to leave her office, stripped of her duties and replaced by a white woman who lacked qualifications and mismanaged the EEO office, the suit alleged.

In August 2011 Ms Phillips testified in a federal race-discrimination lawsuit against the FDNY, describing staff shortages in her office - and thus helping the plaintiffs make their case.

In March 2012, Ms Phillips was fired.

Her 2015 suit, which charged wrongful termination and racial discrimination, had sought $1.2 million. Under the November 21 settlement, she will get $US500,000 ($A726,000) in back pay that counts toward her pension, plus $US300,000 ($A435,000) to cover her lawyer fees.

She declined to comment.

The city law department had no comment on Mr Cassano's alleged affair.

"This settlement ends a longstanding case in the best interests of all parties," said spokesman Nicholas Paolucci. "The fire department is committed to furthering the progress it has made increasing diversity among its ranks and preventing discrimination of any kind."

Calls to Mr Cassano were not returned.

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission



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