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Ex-fire chief's discrimination suit settled

A gender and sexual orientation discrimination case between one woman and the city of Monterey Park has been settled. The April 2011 suit alleged that the woman was harassed, suffered disparate treatment and was eventually forced out of her job as a fire chief.

The woman was hired in May 1999 as a training officer and was promoted to chief in the summer of 2005. According to the suit, there were only 65 female fire chiefs in the U.S. at the time, with 5 of those residing in California. The woman also stated that she was the only woman in the department until 2007 and that she had first-hand experience with women being treated differently than men within the fire services field.

The woman, who married her partner in July 2008, stated that she received unfair treatment even before she was appointed chief, including not receiving the same safety gear as her male counterparts. She also reported that she was unfairly criticized by superiors and subjected to a higher level of scrutiny for her choices and actions on the job.

According to the complaint, things came to a critical point when the woman refused to overlook the alleged misconduct of two paramedics who were accused of falsifying a treatment report. The woman claimed that, after this event, council members and city personnel made "a systematic attempt to discredit" her.

Legal representation for the defense claimed that the woman was never discriminated against, disciplined or forced to resign. The terms of the settlement were not released. Everyone has the right to fair treatment in the workplace, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or religious background, and those who think they are experiencing workplace discrimination may benefit from discussing their options with an employment law attorney.

Source:, "Monterey Park Settles Discrimination Lawsuit With Former Fire Chief" City News Service, Jan. 02, 2014

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