Woman claims discrimination after revealing cancer diagnosis

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EAST GRANBY, Conn. — An East Granby woman said she is being discriminated against by a fire department after revealing she was a breast cancer survivor.

Corinne Salvatore said the problems began after she volunteered to help with a breast cancer awareness event that the East Granby Volunteer Fire Department was sponsoring.

She told a few members that she was a survivor but said that is when things started going south.

The 56-year-old earned her firefighting and hazardous materials certification over the summer, and her goal was to ultimately become a member of the volunteer fire department.

“I decided to do this for the community service,” she said, and added that she started out like a probationary member, like everyone else does.

However after confiding in a few members that she was a breast cancer survivor, she said someone told her, “I’m going to get rid of you no matter what it takes. You don’t belong here.”

Salvatore said she was harassed based on her age, sex and disability from back in 2004, which led to a double mastectomy.

She said she is pointing her finger at Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Bindas for the main focus of the complaint.

“This chief screamed at me (and said), ‘Go join the Lions Club. You’re too old, too blonde, too female,'” Salvatore added.

She said she and her attorney filed with the commission on human rights and opportunities.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” said Wayne Bindas when the Eyewitness News I-Team asked him about the incident, adding that there was a misunderstanding.

Fire Chief Don Zessin also told the I-Team that he had nothing to say on the matter.

Both volunteer fire chiefs went to a meeting on the matter, called by First Selectman Jim Hayden and the town attorney.

Salvatore said she was recently voted out of the department altogether.

“I asked why and they said, ‘because you don’t know enough,’ but I passed fire academy,” Salvatore added.

Hayden said he has no say in the hiring process because the department is a separate entity.

“We’re concerned and looking into it, to help resolve” the matter, Hayden said.

The outcome from the meeting is unclear, and Hayden said if anything needs to be corrected, he said it will be.