The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Tuesday accused the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) of violating civil-rights law through a pattern of discrimination, harassment and retaliation against black and woman employees. Its findings came after investigating discrimination complaints from two anonymous women firefighters. The LAFD must now implement drastic reforms or face a possible federal lawsuit, reports the The Los Angeles Times.
The LAFD has paid out about $13 million dollars in a string of recent discrimination suits. Firefighter Brenda Lee sued over harassment and “hazing”, including having urine mixed into her mouthwash. Last week, African American firefighter Tennie Pierce won a suit filed after he was made to eat dog food by his white coworkers. Other women and minority firefighters have described being sexually harassed, “hazed,” denied transfer requests and promotions, forced to undergo excessive “training,” and retaliated against or ignored when they filed discrimination complaints.
Mayor Villaraigosa and other city officials have promised to cooperate fully with the EEOC and impose major LAFD reforms.