A recent lawsuit forced the Los Angeles City Fire Department to settle a significant claim after several of its members were accused of sexual and religious harassment. Anthony Almeida’s harassment claim against the fire department was determined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to be founded on multiple grounds. Therefore, the two sides decided on an acceptable settlement. The settlement witnessed the L.A. City Fire Department pay Mr. Almeida a total of $494,150 after fellow fire fighters allegedly employed deeply offensive comments of a sexual and religious nature.
Anthony Almeida has been employed by the L.A. City Fire Department as both an engineer and firefighter since 1986. However, during his employment, he claims to have been the victim of deeply offensive comments of a sexual and religious nature. According to an intensive EEOC investigation that began in late 2006, fellow firefighters began harassing Almeida because of a lawsuit that he had previously filed against the Catholic Church.
Almeida’s sexual harassment lawsuit against the Catholic Church regarded sexual abuse that he allegedly received from a priest. Upon hearing that Almeida had filed such claims, his coworkers relentlessly mocked him with explicit and offensive religious and sexual epithets. Subsequently, Almeida complained to the proper management officials about the lewd comments he had recently begun to receive. However, the officials failed to take the adequate steps to quell the situation and nothing was done. According to the EEOC investigation, the Fire Department failed to adequately halt or address any complaints filed by Almeida. Further, the investigation found that Almeida had suffered retaliatory discipline for his participation in another equal employment opportunity investigation.
According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the participants partaking in the sexual and religious harassment of Almeida were determined by the EEOC to have been in violation of the law. Following a determination by the EEOC that there was reasonable cause to believe a violation of law occurred, a settlement was agreed upon.
In addition to the $494,150 the Fire Department was forced to pay, stipulations of the settlement acknowledged that the would provide widespread live anti-harassment training to all fire station chiefs and their subordinate staff. Such training would be distributed throughout the city of Los Angeles. The Fire Department also acknowledged that they plan to enforce policies against discrimination, harassment and retaliation; to offer an external equal employment opportunity complaint procedure; to post a notice on the matter; to report future instances of harassment to the EEOC; and, to publicize the settlement via press release.
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