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Jury awards $806,000 after sexual harassment of firefighter

Employees nationwide, including in Florida, have certain rights that may not be violated by employers or co-workers. A lieutenant with a fire department in another state claimed her early retirement followed years of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. A jury agreed that her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act were violated and awarded her $806,000 for punitive and emotional damages, along with lost wages for the earnings she forfeited by early retirement.

According to the lawsuit, the woman claimed that the harassment and discrimination were brought about by the fact that she was making rapid progress in her career at the fire department, despite being a female who is also a lesbian. She contended that the abuse came from a select few of her colleagues and not the entire department. However, despite multiple written and verbal complaints to superiors, no action was ever taken against the other employees.

The complaint stated that the harassment and discrimination continued even in emergency situations in which people's lives were on the line. One noted incident involved her colleagues refusing to help her lift an injured patient whose death resulted from her inability to move the victim by herself. The former firefighter said the years of discrimination, harassment, insubordination and being called by obscene nicknames ultimately became too much and led to her retirement.

After many years of sexual harassment and other violations of a person's rights in the workplace, any victim must be brave to set the legal action in motion. Fortunately, this is not a battle any victim has to fight on his or her own. An experienced Florida employment law attorney can advocate on behalf of the client and pursue an award of compensation for all damages as deemed appropriate by state laws.

Source: wpri.com, "Providence firefighter wins sexual harassment suit against department", Nancy Krause, Annie Shalvey, April 18, 2016

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