Judgment in LA Firefighter Discrimination Case Reversed

The 2nd District Court of Appeals reversed the judgment in a 2007 discrimination case against the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD). Brenda Lee, who alleged she endured harassment on account of her gender, race, and sexual orientation was originally awarded $6.2 million by a jury and $2,500 in punitive damages. The appeals court found that Lee did not pursue all administrative remedies in her case, according to the Associated Press. Lee, who served at Station 96 in the Chatsworth area of Los Angeles, claimed that her superiors made derogatory remarks about her and forced her to participate in arduous drills without adherence to proper safety protocols. Additional harassment allegations included the mixing of urine into her mouthwash. However, when she sued the LAFD for discrimination in 2005 she was promptly declared unfit for duty. A 2007 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation accused the LAFD of violating civil-rights law through a pattern of discrimination, harassment and retaliation against black and woman employees. The investigation included Brenda Lee’s case and a string of discrimination suits against the LAFD, including the case of African American firefighter Tennie Pierce, who 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.


Associated Press 2/18/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 7/9/07, 10/4/07

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