Ex-Newport Beach Firefighter Sues Over Alleged Anti-Latino Bias

firefighter8.jpg
Who is getting hosed here?
Based on his résumé, it's difficult to imagine that Christian Benard is lazy. He graduated from the University of Southern California and served as an officer in the U.S. Navy before deciding on a career as a firefighter in Newport Beach.

But fire-department officials fired Benard last year, claiming he was lazy and hadn't met minimum standards during his probationary employment period.

In a lawsuit filed this week in Orange County Superior Court, Benard refutes those claims, asserting he was given "outstanding" job-performance evaluations but was fired by high-ranking, caucasian fire-department officials because he complained about their anti-Latino bias.  

Those complaints lead to "a campaign of harassment" and a "hostile work environment," Benard--who was born in Nicaragua--alleges in the lawsuit that seeks lost wages and punitive damages.

He was, he says, given crappy assignments, blocked from adequate training and singled out for criticism of mistakes that were also committed by white firefighters. 

In one puzzling event, Benard claims that three white supervisors ordered him to hold a heavy water hose emitting a large flow for 75 minutes after a fire had already been extinguished and all other crews had left the scene.

In January 2010, department officials abruptly fired Benard, the lone Latino in the probationary class.

Last May, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing issued Benard a "right to sue" letter based on his claims.

Newport Beach city officials haven't yet filed a response in court, and David Hunt, the city attorney, did not reply to a request for comment.

In 2009, the city lost a $1.2 million lawsuit by Neil Harvey, a veteran police officer who claimed he'd been repeatedly cheated out of promotions because of a conspiracy of higher-ranking officers who considered him gay. Never mind that Harvey is straight, dates women and has a long list of accolades for outstanding public service. According to evidence in the jury trial, homophobic managing cops believed they'd uncovered impressive proof that Harvey bats for the other team: He is meticulous in his job performance and--gasp!--lived in the coastal resort town of Laguna Beach.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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39 comments
arellanos are animals
arellanos are animals

Makes me wonder if that gutavo arellano knows this race card screamer.. Im the poor mexican, boo hoo..isnt that what the gustavo guy cries like? gustavos father is a coward like gus..if we Whites where in the streets with gustavo, We would .. wait a minute.. nevermind we Whites dont go to that crummy side of town.. anyway, back to the definition of ''coward'' if you look up ''coward'' you will see arellano.. guses father mr. arellano is a proud mexican who doesnt respect mexico or he would of suceeded in Mexico, not jump our border fence and than claim its Mexico, oh you stold it, NOPE!! we Americans Whooped Mexicos ass for Cali, Arizona,New Mexico and Tejas, whoops Americans kicked the shit out of them at the Alamo? oh, ok sorry, I mean TEXAS and then we felt bad for embarrassing your great grand daddy arellano so our government threw your dumb great great grannies some money.. We Americans always treated Mexico like a dog chained in the backyard..but the arellano mutes are on the loose in Orange County.. By the way, how an arellano whos use to eating neighbors left overs have any advice on restraunts? I thought the arellanos where the dishwashers at the restraunt, not a customer whos paying to eat.. Last time I checked gustavo arellano pays most of his rent with his unemployment checks..hes a 99er..think about it, hes not a real journalist..hes just as much jounalist as a fetus in a womans womb.. he never got hired for any real paying news outlets..if you notice the stuff he writes, its racist rants toward Whites and like Most Real PROWESS White people do Is FIGHT BACK LIKE IM DOING HERE ON this post..you other proud sellout mexicants can follow his words and others like him in la raza or mecha, but keep in mind the worlds laughing at your codependacy on each other..learn to THINK for yourselves, dont let a arellano loser tell you that your people are suppressed.. he obviously thinks you need a leader, so that shows gustavo arellano even thinks mexicans are STUPID people.. if any of you notice his stories, it kinda gives ammunition to Whites to talk more shit.. LOOK!! mida!!! MIDA!! if you notice the stories where Whites respond in alleged Racism, its always stories gustavo arellano writes and look how he makes the browns look stupid or should I say ESTUPIDO.. ATTN MEXICAN ''MACHISMO MEN' HOW IS IT THAT YOU DUDES ARE SUPPOSE TO BE MACHO MEN BUT DONT KNOW HOW TO TAKE CHARGE ON YOUR OWN.. WHY CANT SOME OF YOU DUDES USE YOUR OWN BRAIN??

Ffnick
Ffnick

this guy has been fired from two depts for incompetence. One more look at me I am a victimI'm not responsible for my own actions, Thats new. He is mad because he did not pass minimum requirements and cannoT face reality.

jme
jme

gees, maybee its best for this hispanic firefighter to find another type of job.. Firefighters are suppose to be brave and strong, not racist crybabies..Yes!! usually race card screamers are racist themselves to come up with this idea.. a person whos not racist would just say ''oh White Boys and their stupid humor at it again'' these behaviors just described is plain horseplay that a lot of White guys do even to other White guys.. any White dude Knows exactly what Im talking about.. So if was a firefighter, I would be worried to have this crybaby on my team, especially in a burning building and hes my backup.. A person who has unbalanced emotions should not be in a job where lives are on the line..kinda scary to think if this crybaby would save an old white lady from a burning room or just pass her up and say ''I couldnt get to her'' due to his hatred for Whites obviously.. Cmon!! O.C. natives.. we all see the ''bro'' mentality.. were the capital of ''bros'' so we see how they poke fun even at each other and others, but I guess when a hispanic firefighter gets in on part of the joke, its a different story.. seems like hispanics are learning alot from the poor jews and urban blacks.. they use to be not like this.. hispanics should be embarrassed when their own for playing follow the leader.. Kinda like when I see a White homeless man looking all dirty and drunk, I as a White Man get embarrassed although I do not know the trash diving White bum.

Guest
Guest

No where on this does it mention that the ex firefighter also got fired from 2 separate Fire Departments in So. Cal. and that Newport Beach was his third release of employment. He has a great resume and interviews well.. but he wasn't cut out to be a firefighter. Sorry!

Patrick
Patrick

Quota hires given preferential treatment are nothing but problems.

NewportFlipFlops
NewportFlipFlops

If I'm not mistaken, I do believe that "caucasians" are the minority, in this beautiful land full of illegal immigrants that milk the welfare system and depreciate the value of OUR property. I mean who wipes there ass and tosses it next to the toliet. HELLO, if you escaped your piss poor country, get some manners and of course speak ENGLISH!!! But this fireman guy, I hope he laughes all the way to the bank, I'm white and I'd sue their asses off too!

Tornado738
Tornado738

For those that don't know this ex-firefighter I suggest you don't post stupid racial comments. Those that do know him personally can attest to his resume. How many of you went to USC and became an officer in the Navy? You don't complete those things being a slug. His family is conservative and others in his family are in public service too. So before people go mouthing off that this is because he was lazy and using the race card, think about it for a minute that maybe what he is saying is true???

MyTwoCents
MyTwoCents

Get the F#$k outta' here! It IS the 21st century! We need to shuffle the Race Card out of the deck! People suck at their jobs and then want to claim racism; enough is enough! We are supposed to take his word that he had great performance reviews? Seriously, out of the deck....Jus' Sayin'

tee
tee

I know how that goes I haven't been promoted at all It happens where I work I work for public service as well but now I really don't care anymore.

Ranimal2006
Ranimal2006

We see illegal immigrants drag neighborhoods and schools in to the gutter; we watch the race card played every time a grassroots effort is made to fight the drug and immigrant smuggling cartels and gangs; we have douche bag fire officials treating a man like crap just because he's Latino There's no place for this behavior in the 21st Century.

Lili Lin
Lili Lin

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enFuego
enFuego

I happen to work for an OC fire department and can/will attest to the fact that he was wrongfully released. The Fire Family in OC is extremely small and word spreads like, well wildfire. This kid does have outstanding credentials and they have been earned.

As Mr Moxley states he did graduate from SC, on the dean's list. He earned the rank of Lt in The US Navy and actively served leading combat teams as they boarded ships in the Persian Gulf enforcing the US Blokade during the Gulf War. He was asked to re-enlist after his stint was up and he did, representing the US for NATO in Italy. He is fluent in 3 languages.

Physically he is 6'5, solid and a football/rugby player. In one of the harassing incidents, one of the captains set up a drill designed to make him fall out. It was an obstacle course performed wearing full gear and carrying heavy equipment that was to be repeated until exhaustion. A few of his fellow probationary companions were also working so they had to do it as well so as to not make it blatant he was being singled out. One of the OTHER guys could not handle it and passed out. He had to be taken to the ER via ambulance for medical treatment. The last I checked, the gentleman who could not hack it and failed the evolution successfully passed his probation and is now a full time fireman in Newport! The other kid is the son of a Newport Beach fire captain and also passed.

I know his family and he does have a brother fights fire in LA and who would provide him training when Newport refused to do so.

The reasons he was released from the department were purely personal and had nothing to do with his performance.....especially when it comes to a department like Newport, which is considered by most other fire agencies in the area as nothing more than a boy scout troop. Rarely do they see fire, and when they do it is comical. I can't bring myself to use the word "fight" in describing what they do. They do however spend the majority of their calls placing band aids on scraped knees on the boardwalk or transporting elderly patients across the street to Hoag.

So please get your facts straight and I am confident as are the majority of my coworkers that justice will prevail once many anomalies, inconsistencies and downright unfair practices are brought to light.

OCFire
OCFire

If he had been fired from 2 other departments why did Newport hire the guy??? Heard from inside sources at OC Fire that the NB FF's involved in getting rid of this young man are bad seeds and known for their racist behavior and attitude. Hopefully this lawsuit ends this kind of bullchit from NB Fire!!

jme
jme

yeah!! I noticed how that newport assclown contradicted itself in the same paragraph as well as you did Sexy Latina.. Whats funny is, it has ''flip flop'' in its name..it talks shit bout mexicans but in the next sentence, it says I hope this Hispanic crybaby sues the countys ass off for discrimination.. so which is it newport nitwit??

SexyLatina
SexyLatina

NEWPOERT FLIPFLOPS YOU NEED TO STAY OFF THE CRACK PIPE AND GET URSELF A JOB! U JUST CONTRADICTED URESELF AND PPL LIKE U LIVE OFF MY TAX MONEY! SHUT THE F!@# UP AND DO SOME RESEARCH BEFORE EVEN THINKING OF POSTING A COMMENT!

Ffnick
Ffnick

I do know him as a f/f and he cannot do the job! that is why we fired him. He is a great person and very likeable but not a firefighter, the job is not for everyone.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Maybe he's telling the truth or maybe not It sounds to me that he was quite vocal about a percieved anti Latino bais... As a former Military guy myself you learn quickly the old axiom "Sqeeky wheel gets the grease, if it sqeeks to much it gets replaced". NOW im not suggesting its te same everywhere but I have had several friends try to get into various fire agencies and so far only my Mexican friends have been hired. So at least we know affirmitive "racist" action is working somewhere!

Js1272
Js1272

How the hell would anybody no if the officials actually did what they have been accused of? The race card is used EVERYTIME MINORITIES don't get what they want. Excuses are like ASSHOLES everyone has one and they all stink!!!

Since you and people like you have decided we are such a RACIST country why don't you and your minorities GO SOMEWHERE ELSE AND CREATE YOUR PERFECT COUNTRY!!!!

Flooreeze
Flooreeze

@enFuego You think this guys situation is bad, look into the engineer that was just fired from laguna beach after 10 years of service......

Gunny Fire
Gunny Fire

I am a fireman in Arizona of hispanic heritage but 100% American. I served 2 tours with the Marines in Iraq and am proud of my country. I was visiting California with my family last month and saw a Newport Beach Fire company having a cup of coffee near the beach. My son wanted to take pictures with the boys and I proudly walked up to them, introduced myself as a brother fireman and the all white crew would barely acknowledge me. It was the first time I had felt a racist tinge in my 35 years. I feel for this guy who had to endure for all those months what my family and I endured for 5 minutes. I wish him the best and hope it is a wakeup call for these antiquated racist practices.

Gina
Gina

You definitely get the sense reading comments made to this article that certain invested firefighters are bigoted SOBs. I applaud this man for standing up to the good ole boy club. Nowadays so many people let bullies run them over. This guy, Benard, is courageous. Me and my family wish him the best. There's no place for stupid discrimination in public service. If my home was on fire, he's the type who'd I'd want to come to my rescue--not some uneducated, racist punks who have seniority and see their jobs as a platform to practice racism.

OCFire
OCFire

Nick - you say they fired the young man for "not passing minimum requirements" yet they fire him 11 months into his 12 month probationary period?!?! WTF??? Kinda long to figure out a man ins't "competent" wouldn't you say?? Sounds like a few white boys from Newport didn't want this Latino getting hired and took matters into their own hands. I know a lot of guys at NB Fire that are pulling for this lawsuit to go in this young man's favor. They're tired of the games by a few bad aholes that give them all a bad name.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Thank you Nick not only for being there for us when we need you guys but also for bringing some much needed perspective... I know the type, I was in the Marines with some really good guys that just werent cut out for life in the Corps. It doesnt make them bad people, they just need to find different employment. Its becoming more and more the mentality that we have to fit a square peg in a round hole because the square peg wants too!

This also is another example of the Weekly staff left stuck with both feet in their mouth. Hey Moxley, What do you have to say now? I'm just suprised we havent heard from the Latino Pied Piper (Gustavo). I mean this kind of story is right in his wheel house!

SexyLatina
SexyLatina

JS I CAN TELL BY URE RESPONCE THAT U ARE AN IGNORANT SON OF A B!@#H IF U EVER HAVE TIME PICK UP A DAMM NEWSPAPER AND READ IT!! BECAUSE U ARE THE ONLY HOLE IS MY ASS THAT STINKS! THE MINORITY ARE NOW WHITE!! THE MAJORITY ARE ASIANS AND HISPANIC/LATINOS! U NEED TO DO RESEARCH MEANWHILE KEEP URE HOLE SHUT! U IDIOT

Eeyorelover1376
Eeyorelover1376

Actually the ones who should leave are people like you… if you have forgotten your history. Let me refresh your memory this California was MEXICO but the whites stole it… and GASP I’m white. So in reality this country belongs to the Native American and well the Mexicans…

tee
tee

its attitude like yours that says it was your country from the begining I am an american citizen with heritage of american indian descent I am not from any other country

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

If your story is true, I apologize on behalf of all good Orange Countians for the pendejos who continue to be the majority here. But those days are ending...

909Jeff
909Jeff

Hey Gustavo,

I see three people liked your comment, my guess is its You, Moxley, and your gimp Coker.

And I'm not looking for any sort of reciprocation, you can respond if you choose but the more you ignore me when I call you out for fanning the flames of racism the more you look like the snake oil salesman you really are.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Dude, you have to get over your unrequited crush for me--I don't swing that way;-)

SexyLatina
SexyLatina

THANK YOU! XOXOXOXO YOU NEED TO SCHOOL JS BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE THE ONLY THING SCHOOLING HIM IS HIS CRACK PIPE

Js1272
Js1272

You lost the war!!

Mitchell
Mitchell

Maybe 'native Americans' -- by which I imagine you mean Indians. But there was a very thin Spanish/Mexican presence on the ground in the Southwest, and even thinner in California. Historically there is little connection between, say, Oaxaca and California. In fact, you look at old Spanish and Mexican maps, much of the SW is labelled 'Apacheria'

Calaquili
Calaquili

I like how these ignorant white people forget that they forcefully kicked out of native americans and native mexicans before they came and exploited both the people and the land. Remember the white tide came to us not us to them.

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