In a recent appeals court decision, it was held that an ambulance service was justified in firing a paramedic for violation of company policy, and that the paramedic’s sexual orientation was not a factor in his termination, as was alleged by the paramedic in his lawsuit.
In Miranda v. ESA Hudson Valley, Inc., the plaintiff was a paramedic employed by ESA Hudson Valley, an ambulance service. The Paramedic had responsibility for controlled substances stored in a “narcotics box” for use during his tour of duty. Typically, for each tour, the Paramedic had a key to the inner door of the narcotics box and his Emergency Medical Technician (or EMT) partner had a key to the outer door of the box, a system which was designed so that no one individual would have access to the drugs during the tour. The Paramedic was also responsible for taking inventory of the narcotics box and logging the box in and out at the beginning and end of each tour.
After discovering discrepancies in the controlled substances records and inventory sheets, the Ambulance Service reviewed the surveillance tapes from the camera over the area where controlled substances were kept and learned that that on the day in question, the narcotics box was not properly secured. The Paramedic was fired, allegedly for “a serious violation of company policy regarding the security of controlled substances.” The Paramedic asserted, however, that after he informed some of his superiors he was gay, some six months prior to his termination, he went onto a “hit list” and discrimination was the real reason for which he was fired. The New York Human Rights Law expressly prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation. The Paramedic sued. His lawsuit was dismissed and he appealed.