Female firefighters want equal treatment

Nearly a decade ago, a sexual harassment claim was filed against the Houston Fire Department. Women who worked there said that colleagues would call them names, urinate on their beds and make a mess out of their bathrooms. However, despite raising complaints, nothing was done to remedy the situation. Those who objected to the behavior were called troublemakers. The resulting lawsuit contained hundreds of pages of evidence that was collected by the victims of such activity.

Earlier, women who worked at HFD sat down with a reporter from the Houston Chronicle. They said that there is still a hostile and uncomfortable workplace for women. Fewer than 4 percent of the 4,000 firefighters are women, and the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against it. A new fire chief took over in 2017, and he said that the HFD was committed to hiring more women and treating everybody equally.

He also said that the number of women in the department was consistent with the national average. The women who gave the interview did not provide their names out of fear that they could be retaliated against. They said that they are forced to either leave the department or keep silent about what happens to them to avoid being labeled as a problem.

Employers who treat employees differently based on gender or other protected attributes may have violated employment law. Prior to taking legal action, people may wish to consult with an attorney about their experiences at work. An attorney may be able to review worker statements, witness statements and other evidence to determine if a hostile workplace existed. Depending on the incident in question, a single event may be enough to be considered harassment.

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