WSVN — For the first time, two people at the center of an investigation inside a South Florida Fire Department are talking. And they’re talking to just one station. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is back on the case.
Daniel Sullivan spent 32 years with Hallandale Beach Fire Rescue, more than half of his life. He rose through the ranks and was chief for the last 18 years.
Hallandale Beach Fire Rescue Chief Daniel Sullivan (pointing to picture): "That’s me as a young chief."
But the last six months of his career have been a nightmare. The chief was put on paid leave in April for reportedly talking about a confidential investigation. It involved a female employee who says she was discriminated against while pregnant. But then Sullivan became a target of the investigation and ended up accused of allowing a hostile work environment and was fired.
Carmel Cafiero: "Do you think you got a fair shake?"
Daniel Sullivan: "No. I think any reasonable person would take a look at the investigation, and you will see nothing but a compilation of complaints and a summary by the city attorney of what those complaints were."
The complaints came from members of the fire department and include inappropriate racial, religious and gender remarks by supervisors. Among them, a black firefighter who says he was referred to as the "token," and a shift with no women being called "no bitch Tuesdays."
Baby David, in addition to being in his parent’s heart, is also at the heart of the investigation. His mom, Stephanie Delgado, an employee who is not a firefighter, filed a complaint claiming a manager, not the chief, discriminated against her while she was pregnant.
She says he questioned her ability to do her job.
Stephanie Delgado: "The fact that he expressed these concerns based on the fact that I was pregnant, to me, was completely inappropriate."
Her complaint was upheld. And while the investigation started over someone else, it ended up focused on Sullivan and ended his career.
Carmel Cafiero: "Tough way to end a career, isn’t it?"
Daniel Sullivan: "It was a pretty — it was a pretty (bleep) Wait, is that legal on TV?"
Carmel Cafiero: "Well, no."
Daniel Sullivan: "Pretty crappy way. Can we do that?"
He was fired, not for what he did, but what he did not do.
Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper: "It was heart-wrenching to me to feel that our employees here in the city were being subjected and that the leader of the department wasn’t standing up and saying, ‘No, it’s improper to say this,’ or, ‘No, it’s improper to conduct yourself in this manner.’"
Sullivan insists the city did not verify the accuracy of employee allegations, and says the claim that his department lacked diversity is unfair — and untrue.
Daniel Sullivan: "The department is more diverse now then when I started as fire chief. I have been an advocate for women’s rights. I wrote the pregnancy policy."
Carmel Cafiero: "His career may be in ashes, but don’t count Daniel Sullivan down and out. He says he may fight fire with fire by taking the city to court over his dismissal. Carmel Cafiero, 7News."
In addition to the chief, a battalion chief has also been fired after being accused of making derogatory comments and contributing to the hostile work environment. Claims his attorney denies.
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