A veteran Wilmington firefighter has slapped the department with a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging a hostile workplace, citing various instances of racism and religious discrimination.
Corey Ferrell, who's been with the Wilmington Fire Department for 23 years, said he's endured being called racist slurs and other derogatory terms since "virtually the beginning of [his] employment."
"On multiple occasions, firefighters would physically harass Plaintiff and call Plaintiff a 'Black motherf*****,' 'Black bastard,' and refer to him as 'you people,'" the complaint said.
The complaint, filed in Delaware District Court earlier this month, claims that when Ferrell prays at work, firefighters queue up the Aladdin theme song, and say to him "'there goes ali baba on his magic carpet.'"
Ferrell's colleagues also have poured pork grease into his coffee and into his coat pockets and in his gear, knowing he can't consume pork because of his religious beliefs, the complaint alleges.
On Thanksgiving in 2017, Ferrell's wife brought in a turducken and a Wilmington Fire captain said: "'I didn't think you shama-lama-ding-dong Muslims celebrated Thanksgiving.'"
Ferrell said he's reported several of the instances to management and human resources, and no one has ever been punished.
Instead, Ferrell said he's been retaliated against and punished for insubordination.
In 2018, Ferrell said he parked near a fire hydrant and a captain suspended him for 45 days without pay, while he said his Caucasian colleagues have done the same thing and have seen no punishment.
The lawsuit further claims Ferrell was brought up on charges in 2019 for wearing civilian clothes while responding to an emergency incident that occurred within moments of his arrival at the fire station. A trial board found Ferrell not guilty, according to the complaint.
"Throughout his employment with Defendant City of Wilmington, Plaintiff had to endure disparate treatment by way of African American employees being disciplined harsher and more frequently than white employees," the complaint said. "As a result of Defendants severe and pervasive discriminatory conduct Plaintiff has been subjected to a hostile work environment which has caused him stress, anxiety, humiliation, insecurity, and emotional damage."
Ferrell's attorney Michele Allen didn't respond to a request for comment.
The city declined comment with a spokesman saying the Law Department was reviewing the lawsuit.