(WHDH) — A firefighter in Detroit was fired during his first day on the job for showing up with a watermelon wrapped in a pink bow.
Fox 2 reports that Robert Pattison, 41, went to present the watermelon as a gift to the firehouse, but several co-workers were offended by the gesture.
Second Battalion Fire chief Shawn McCarty at Engine 55 told the the news station that it’s a tradition to “come in bearing gifts” on the first day. He said the “usual gift is doughnuts, but you are allowed to bring whatever you want.”
McCarty said that some African-Americans took immediate offense to the gesture, finding it “racially insensitive.” Ninety percent of the workers at Engine 55 are African-American, according to the news station.
Pattison claims his gesture was not joke and that he did not mean to offend anyone at the fire station.
“There is zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior inside the Detroit Fire Department,” Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said in a statement.
Pattison was terminated after a “thorough” investigation determined it was the “best course of action,” according to Jones.
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