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Nova Scotia firefighter claims colleagues put his life in danger because he’s gay

Tribunal found he was subjected to traumatic experiences by co-workers

A Canadian navy fireboat, similar to what the firefighter may have worked on while employed at the Department of National Defence. The Nova Scotian naval base where he worked was not named in the ruling. Michael Chu/Creative Commons/Flickr

A Nova Scotia firefighter is claiming that his colleagues intentionally put his life in danger because he’s gay.

The claims were made in an August 2016 hearing at the Nova Scotia Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal, which is the final level of appeal for the workers’ compensation system.

The firefighter, whose name was withheld in the tribunal’s written decision, testified that his colleagues harassed him, posted gay porn around the workplace, threatened him with assault, attacked him with a metal door and tampered with his breathing apparatus, putting him in life-threatening danger.

“It is remarkable that the Worker remained in the workplace as long as he did, and more remarkable that the treatment to which he was subjected was allowed to continue through to the Worker’s departure from the workplace,” wrote K Andrew MacNeil, the appeal commissioner.

The tribunal found that the firefighter had endured traumatic events at work and was therefore entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

The worker was employed as a civilian firefighter by the Department of National Defence at a naval base in Nova Scotia. Though the name of the base is not mentioned in the ruling, Canadian Forces Base Halifax is the only active navy base in the province.

Maritime Forces Atlantic did not respond to Xtra’s request for comment before publication.

The firefighter had worked for years as a military firefighter before being hired as a civilian and had a total of 21 years of military service. He testified that he had told his colleagues he was gay early into his tenure, and claimed he was quickly targeted not just for his sexual orientation, but because he was ambitious and was better-trained than them.

The most serious incident allegedly involved the firefighter discovering that his breathing equipment had been interfered with, allowing outside gas and smoke to enter his facemask directly during a fire.

“An objective person, whether or not employed as a firefighter, would perceive actual or threatened death or serious injury to himself or others, or perceive a threat to his physical integrity,” wrote MacNeil in regards to the claim.

In 2014, a psychiatrist examined the firefighter and concluded that he suffers from chronic adjustment disorder due to the treatment he received at his workplace.

“Although the treatment which the Worker found objectionable was varied in nature, it was, in summary, scandalous,” wrote MacNeil.