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Schools Manager Told Contractors Trump Would Deport Them, Suit Claims

By Nicholas Rizzi | May 11, 2017 5:18pm
 Antonio Firmino and Celso Martins sued the city over racist comments School Construction Authority manager Richard Dauria allegedly made while they worked on a project at the Michael J. Petrides School.
Antonio Firmino and Celso Martins sued the city over racist comments School Construction Authority manager Richard Dauria allegedly made while they worked on a project at the Michael J. Petrides School.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

SUNNYSIDE — A manager for the School Construction Authority referred to workers on a Staten Island project as a "f--king Mexican crew" and told them they'd be deported when Donald Trump gets elected president, a lawsuit claims.

Antonio Firmino and Celso Martins, who worked on a construction project at Michael J. Petrides School, sued the city and SCA Staten Island construction manager, Richard Dauria, for discrimination over comments they said Dauria made on the site.

"[Frimino and Martins] brought this case not only to address the harm that was caused to them but also to make sure that no one else who works for the city of New York is ever discriminated against based upon the color of their skin or the country they're from," their lawyer, Eric Baum, said.

"The city of New York must provide adequate racial sensitivity training to its supervisors and make sure all individuals who work for the city are treated equally."

The suit was originally filed in The Bronx, where SCA's offices are located, in late 2015 but moved to Staten Island in February, according to court records.

Frimino owns Chelmsford Contracting Corporation and Martins worked as a supervisor for the company during 2014 and 2015 when they did a city project at the 715 Ocean Terrace school.

The suit claims that Dauria made insulting and racist comments to Firmino, Martins and their crews during progress meetings at the site.

Dauria did not make similar comments to workers on the job who weren't Hispanic, the suit claims.

In September 2014, Dauria told Firmino he had an "ugly face" during a meeting with others on the project, according to a letter Frimino wrote to SCA officials. After Frimino asked him to stop calling him ugly, Dauria said "Where the hell are you guys from ... the boat?"

The next month, after Firmino said hello to Dauria, he asked him: "So ... that's your f--king Mexican crew?"

Dauria made similar comments to Martins in progress meeting, including when he asked who did the brick and cement work on the project. When Martins told him, Dauria said Trump would deport him when elected.

"He then had the audacity to ask me whether we had crossed the (American) border on foot," Martins wrote in a letter to the SCA. "He laughed at his own humor and then told us not to worry, and that Donald Trump will handle it."

Both Frimino and Martins filed several written complaints to SCA officials about Dauria's comments, but the abuse continued, Baum said.

A spokesman for the SCA would not say if Dauria faced any disciplinary actions over the complaints or answer any questions about his work history.

Firmino never heard back about his letter, but Martins had a brief phone call and meeting with an SCA investigator afterward that went nowhere, Baum said.

"It was not a thorough investigation in our opinion," he said.

While it's unclear if Dauria ever was disciplined, Firmino's company, Chelmsford, is currently listed as an ineligible contractor on the SCA's website. Baum said Chelmsford is in the process of being dissolved and didn't think there's any relevance to it being put on the ineligible list.

The SCA spokesman would not say why Chelmsford is listed as ineligible.

In the suit, both Martins and Firmino claimed they refused to accept any jobs Dauria worked on because of the abuse and linked his comments to other personal issues.

Firmino said the stress from working with Dauria caused him to injure himself several times on the job and led to him being diagnosed with depression, according to court documents.

Martins claimed in the suit he had trouble sleeping, argued with his wife, experienced sexual dysfunction and started taking antidepressants after working with Dauria.

Baum requested a jury trial to determine damages over the allegations in the suit.

The city denied the claims in court papers and a spokesman for the Law Department did not respond to a request for comment.