Former BG firefighter files harassment lawsuit against city


The Fire Department was called to Raymond Cravens Library where a small mechanical fire occurred in Bowling Green, Kentucky on February 16, 2016. Ebony Cox/HERALD

Jacob Dick

A lawsuit alleging constant harassment of a former firefighter was filed against the city of Bowling Green and members of its fire department Wednesday by Louisville law firm Craig Henry PLC.

In the complaint filed on the behalf of former Bowling Green firefighter Jeff Queen, other firefighters, including current Fire Chief Jason Colson, are accused of verbally harassing Queen during his five years in the department with comments and questioning on his religion and sexuality.

The lawsuit also claims that the city of Bowling Green failed to engage in any investigation of the department after Queen made a complaint to the city’s ethics hotline in 2015.

In the lawsuit, Queen, who is an atheist, alleges he was repeatedly questioned on his church affiliation and religion after being hired in 2011 and was told by Colson that he needed to find a church. In 2013, Queen said, Captain Todd Barnard stated publicly that atheists “deserve to burn.”, according to the lawsuit.

Queen cites the verbal abuses and frequent comments by fellow firefighters claiming they would not help an atheist in a critical situation as causing him to fear for his life on the job and resulting in a leave of absence due to stress in February of this year.

Along with the derogatory statements about Queen and his family, the lawsuit also claims that fire department employees frequently made hateful comments about African American, Muslim and LGBTQ members of the Bowling Green community.

A post on the law office’s website announcing the suit on Wednesday included a video of a person with a blurred face and a blue sweatshirt with an emblem on it, alleged in the lawsuit to be a Bowling Green firefighter, burning a Koran and mocking the Muslim “call to prayer.”