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Firefighter alleges retaliation for reporting sexual harassment

When someone in California starts a new job, his or her co-workers typically want to make the newcomer feel welcome. However, introducing people into a culture that is disrespectful and riddled with sexual harassment is not acceptable. A female firefighter from another state claims that from her first day on the job, she was faced with sexual innuendos and invitations. This behavior had allegedly been going on for over 10 years, and she has had enough.

The woman is one of two full-time female firefighters with the department. According to her complaint, the firefighters would watch pornography at the station, and the lieutenants apparently acknowledged they were aware of it. The plaintiff claims she was continually tormented by the other firefighters, who had done such things as trying to get into her bunk bed with her, intruding while she was showering and throwing sexual paraphernalia at her. She has also found graphic sexual stickers on her locker.

Her alleged mistreatment also obstructed her from getting promoted. When taking the promotion exam, she allegedly discovered that the questions on the test were written by the father of one of the firefighters who was taking it. That man scored the highest, achieving the promotion. When she complained, nothing changed, but the man who was promoted purportedly made her life miserable.

Although she complained about the way she was treated, she claims nothing was done. The fire chief has allegedly prevented the firefighters from watching television channels that have nudity, and the sexual harassment complaints are being investigated. A culture of sexual harassment should not be accepted by California workers, and supervisors who are aware of the situation are required to intervene. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act affects companies who have 15 or more employees and protects those workers from enduring harassment. Workers who have exhausted all avenues of ending the harassment without satisfactory results can consider pursuing legal action.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Country Club Hills lawsuit alleges porn in fire station, sexual harassment", Gregory Pratt, Aug. 20, 2015

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