In the largest in a series of recent discrimination cases against the Los Angeles Fire Department, a jury sided with a woman firefighter who said she endured harassment on account of her gender, race, and sexual orientation. In addition to her $6.2 million award, Brenda Lee also won $2,500 in punitive damages by the same court. Lee, 39, 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, Lee told the AP. However, when she sued the LAFD for discrimination in 2005 she was promptly declared unfit for duty.
The AP also reports that two others firefighters who worked with Lee have won jury awards after filing lawsuits contending that they were punished for supporting her.
In 2006, a LAFD department audit performed by Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick reported that 87 percent of the African Americans and close to 80 percent of the women surveyed said that they were aware of or had been the victims of discrimination while serving on the force.