Ex-Jones Beach Lifeguard Claims He Was Fired For Not Wearing Speedo

Roy Lester Says New York State Was Trying To Weed Out Older Workers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Roy Lester spent 40 years as a lifeguard until he was fired from his job at Jones Beach in 2007.

Lester claims he was forced out because he refused to take his annual swimming test in a Speedo.

EXTRA: Court Documents (pdf)

“They said if you want to wear a fast suit when you’re taking the test you have to wear the little Speedos that we issue,” Lester told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “I said, ‘No, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to wear my jammers.'”

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports: Too Old For A Speedo? 

The 61-year-old said he prefers bike shorts.

“I won’t wear a Speedo — no more than I would walk around in my underwear. And I’m not going to walk around in my underwear,” Lester told CBS 2’s Katie Fehlinger.

“I show up, they say, ‘We won’t let you take the test,'” Lester said. “So that was the end of my lifeguarding.”

But he had other options.

“Everybody has to wear state-issued gear, so you either have to wear the Speedo or you could wear board shorts or anything that’s state issued to make it fair for everybody,” Jones Beach lifeguard Rob Hildebrand said.

In fact, all of the guards donned the looser trunks. Still, Lester wanted something form fitting so he’d have a faster time on his speed test. However, the state flat out said no to the jammers. So Lester, who is a bankruptcy lawyer by day, filed an age discrimination suit against the state. He believes older lifeguards were being weeded out. He estimated 80 percent of them are over 40.

“All of a sudden they’re banning the swimsuits that the older lifeguards were using,” Lester said.

He said there should be a law against anyone over 50 wearing the skimpy, form-hugging swimwear.

“It’s not an attractive look,” Lester said.

Lester is suing the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for age discrimination.

His case has been dismissed twice before on technicalities. An appeals court has reinstated his claim and the case could go to trial in Nassau County either this year or next.

A spokesman for the state Parks Department said there will be no comment on the pending legislation.

What do you think? Sound off below…

More from Mona Rivera
  • Floridaboy

    I think the rule is that to take the test he was required to wear state issued swimwear that is approved for wearing on the job. If he wears baggy shorts on the job, he should wear them for the test. He was looking to wear his jammers to improve his times, but did not want to wear the speedo. So he posts a faster time in his jammers stays on the job, too bad for the poor drowning person that he can not get to because he can’t swim fast enough in his shorts. Here in Florida, if you apply for a Police job, you take the swim test in long pants and a shirt because that is what you are probably going to be wearing if you have to rescue someone.
    I took a lifeguard teas once and when I showed up in a speedo, they told me I could take the test in it if I was willing to work in it because they wanted the test times to be an accurate representation of a real life rescue time. made sense to me.

  • Wally Smith

    My comment was not a duplicate!

  • A. Swimmer

    I think it’s obvious that the guy’s bosses are trying to get rid of older employees by any means necessary, but I don’t understand why anyone would wear a ‘jammer’. They have all the disadvantages of of shorts and briefs, and none of the advantages of either.

  • JaniceKellison

    Any man that dares to wear a speedo should be strung up as an example for others. Speedos are disgusting no matter the age of the wearer.

    • A. Swimmer

      Speedos (or any other brand of brief swimwear) are the most practical costume for swimming. The idea of having the death penalty for wearing a sensible swimsuit could only have come from some ‘religious’ fundamentalist or a wacked out feminist.

    • Kevin

      I don’t wear speedos, but it cracks me up that people find them disgusting. Nobody is complaining about a woman’s thong bikini as being disgusting. Male and female sexism abound in American society.

  • Noyb

    Who gives a shut what he wears as long as he can swim and
    Save a life. Jeeesh!!!

    • A. Swimmer

      The voice of reason… though baggy shorts do tend to make swimming more difficult.

    • Rain Tower

      The old goat probably could not pass the test and figured the quick way to a Civil Service Jackpot was to get himself fired. So he refused to follow the rules that have been in place and claim discrimination when he was fired for not passing the test that every other Lifeguard has to take. He should be ashamed of himself.

  • Bernie Sanders

    go naked its easier … besides if they wanna see your junk let em see it !

  • Keith

    It’s a uniform requirement. Either put it on or don’t be a lifeguard. Also, it is NOT a Speedo. Speedo is a BRAND NAME. It’s called a “swim brief” or a “racing brief.”

  • Boston Blackie, Detective

    Can’t get your Speedos to fit any more eh, IE? try a tent and awning company. They can fit all sizes… even you!

  • NorthernSnowbird

    The cartoon says it all! (Personally, this story isn’t even worth commenting on, but what the hey……….

  • M

    OK just because you dont like the uniform, does not give you the right to cry age discrimination. Now put the speedo on, pass the test and do you job or GO HOME you old crumudgen!

  • Cookie

    He could have just taken the test with the speedo. Then after he could have worn whatever he wanted.

  • Bklyn Mom

    I agree with him, it’s age discrimination. Although he might have just worn the Speedo for the test as long as he can wear his normal bathing suit on the job. There is no reason to see older men in Speedos. As for Europeans, most of the men who wear these have nice bodies and there is nothing wrong with it. They are not so repressed about showing off skin on the beach. However, American men (on the whole) have are fat and should never wear skimpy bathing suits!

    • m

      your a piig

  • Max9

    State lifeguards are unionized. I believe the Speedo would be a uniform requirement. He most likely gets a uniform allowance. What does he do with that money?

  • Ellen

    Give me a break. Being a lifeguard is all about saving lives not what to wear at the beach. God, this sounds like something out of the Housewives of New Jersey. Get real will you . This is real life not a reality show.

  • Katie

    Makes me think of this New Yorker cartoon…. http://goo.gl/ihEcB

  • Omar

    Americans don’t wear speedos because we don’t want to look like the fat Europeans who don’t seem to realize that they are too big for a skimpy swimsuit. Also, unless your are an Olympic swimmer, why wear something so skimpy if jammers or swim trunks do just fine?

    • IanL

      Europeans don’t realize that they look like beached white whales when they’re practically naked. May as well put a speedo on an economy size bottle of paste. I live and work in Las Vegas and let me tell you…there are PLENTY of disgustingly fat Europeans! Add insult to injury being that they’re all cheapskates that don’t leave so much as a penny on the table. That’s why they’re not allowed in most strip clubs here. Anyway, the speedo wearing antics don’t make a bit of sense. Half the lifeguards at my hotel are women and you can guarantee that they never wear speedos. Men shouldn’t have to wear anything that women aren’t required to wear. That’s why girls and guys lifeguard’s wear shorts and t-shirts at all 3 of our hotel pools. I suggest that this guy also sue for gender discrimination as they are making him wear something that no female would ever be allowed to wear.

  • DC

    Does it take a more confident man to wear a Speedo or not to wear one? I thought the reason most Americans don’t wear them is because they are fat. In that case it is not a very flattering look. Either way if you are supposed to wear a specific uniform then wear it. Everybody else is.

    • Brenda Reagan

      I think he looks better than the “speedo”. They have always looked gross. Do a survey and you will find ladies prefer anything other than the speedo’s. I think men wear them for other men not females. THEY ARE GROSS , ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. Rehire the great looking guy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • IanL

        Dudes ONLY wear speedos to show off their package to other males. I haven’t in my life met a woman that wanted to see me in a speedo and trust me, I am in very good shape. I find it very creepy for a guy to intentionally show off so much skin. Almost like they’re competing with chicks. I feel that speedos are definitely more of a gay/bi dude’s clothing choice as they are, in some ways, looking to compete with women. Why the hell would str8 dude want to wear a speedo?

      • A. Swimmer

        Real men wear speedos.

        Swimsuits have no sexual orientation.

    • Sencho

      What a clown. The article above clearly states that Lester himself said:

      “They said if you want to wear a fast suit when you’re taking the test you have to wear the little Speedos that we issue,” Lester told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “I said, ‘No, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to wear my jammers.’”

      He was never told he had to swim while wearing ONLY a Speedo; he was told that he would have to wear a Speedo if he elected to swim while wearing a fast suit (look it up if you don’t know what a fast suit looks like).

      Even the NY State Division of Human Rights brushed this guy’s claim off. He’s obviously just looking for some face time on TV and money for nothing.

    • Wally Smith

      The Stae Has no written procedures that states you need to wear Stae Issues suits in order to take the test. When I was a guard I used to take the test in my own suit. I just fuled in 2011 a Freedom of Information act and no where can it be found that staes a State suit is required > have paprers mailed to me!

  • diver

    Please tell me there’s more here than meets the eye. Who cares what kind of bathing suit he is wearing so long as he can pass the swim?

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