Last month we reported on claims that Brian Gentles had been racially and sexually harassed while training to become a Miami Beach firefighter. Gentles claimed a white recruit had tea-bagged him several times, but that when the African-American complained, he was the one that was fired.
Gentles now says he is going on hunger strike until the city gives him his old job back.
"I won't be eating from this day on," he tells Riptide. "This is the last way to go. I can't take [my case] to the courts. But if something is unjust, you've got to do something about it."
- Miami Beach Fire Dept. Recruit Claims He Was Tea-Bagged, Racially Abused, And Fired For Complaining
A spokeswoman for Miami Beach said the city had no comment on Gentles's proposed hunger strike, but said that an independent investigation into the case will be released this Friday. Check back here for updates.
We originally outlined Gentles's allegations in an article published on October 29. In addition to claims of sexual and racial harassment, the fire recruit said his superiors covered up his complaints.
Back then, Fire Chief Javier Otero provided New Times with the following statement:
The City of Miami Beach and the Miami Beach Fire Department take allegations of misconduct or discrimination seriously and investigate such matters thoroughly. Once this investigation comes to a close, we will disclose the findings accordingly.Under an agreement signed in September, Gentles agreed to drop his EEOC complaint in exchange for a small amount of money (around $50,000 after taxes and attorneys' fees) and a brief return to work in the department beginning in January.
However, the agreement only allows him to work as a fire inspector -- not a firefighter -- and only guarantees him a job for 19 months.
Gentles believes that deal has already been breached, but says if he doesn't show up to work as an inspector on January 1, he will be fired for good.
"Mr. Gentles has agreed to a settlement with the city and he needs to abide by it," said the Miami Beach City Attorney's office in a statement provided to New Times.
Instead, Gentles hopes to force the city to give him his full job back by going on hunger strike. He says he's even willing to take his personal protest to the public.
"I don't want to bring it in front of City Hall but if five days go by without anything happening, then I'll do what I have to do," he says.
Gentles says that he's not blackmailing the city, just demanding what was wrongfully taken from him.
"I'm not asking for a million dollars," he says. "I just want my job back."
Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes. Follow this journalist on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.