Sexual discrimination can come in many forms. When firefighters decided to fight back against it in California, they made the case that it is impossible to successfully complete their mission when suffering the impacts of this devastating and illegal form of discrimination. In each case, reporting the discrimination resulted in retaliation.
What We Know About Retaliation
Researchers have determined that three in four reported cases of sexual harassment result in retaliation in this country. This is particularly prevalent in male-dominated fields, such as construction and firefighting because women are often perceived as intruders who do not belong there.
Problems in the Academy
When Nicole Pappas complained about a drawing of penises being taped on the wall, posted on social media, and being emailed to her, it was just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to having to share a locker room with male recruits, Pappas claims she was subjected to sexist comments by fellow recruits on a regular basis, and supervisors were not only aware of it, but they promoted it. When she reported the problem and it was investigated, she claims she was ultimately fired for discriminatory reasons.
Sexual Orientation Under Fire
Another California firefighter was harassed to such an extent that it pushed him to the brink of suicide. Captain Dru Snider claims that trainers at a California fire camp harassed him aggressively. Witnesses to the harassment concede that they became physically nauseous from watching the way leadership treated Snider. When the captain reported the problems, he was shunned and further penalized for displaying his homosexuality. Trainers articulated that his kind was unwelcome at the camp. After following designated procedures to rectify the situation failed, Snider took his case to court.
Career at a Standstill
When 18-year firefighting veteran Sara Alfaro reported to her superiors that suggestive texts and explicit photos were being sent to her, she claims superiors retaliated by making her life miserable. She was alienated, passed over for promotions, and berated. Finally, she felt no choice other than to pursue the matter in court.
Female firefighter LisaMarie Mason tolerated improper sexual comments for years, hoping nonchalance would lead to acceptance in the field. Eventually, she found that putting up with improper treatment only gave offenders the green light to take things further. After being overlooked for training opportunities that her male colleagues were offered and grimacing while being addressed as “Home plate” (because everyone scores with her), she ultimately suffered physical attacks. The hostile work environment, discrimination, and retaliation ultimately resulted in a lawsuit, which is currently pending in court.
Discrimination and retaliation are illegal. Period. If you have encountered these problems in the workplace, the experienced legal team at HKM in Los Angeles can help. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.