EEOC: Houston Fire Department hostile to female firefighter

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Management Training

The EEOC has determined that the Houston Fire Department (HFD) subjected firefighter Jane Draycott to a hostile work environment when it failed to address her complaints of sex discrimination and retaliation.

That finding could prove costly to the city of Houston, since Draycott is suing the department.

Draycott originally filed a harassment complaint against the HFD in June 2009.

Soon after, Draycott and fellow firefighter Paula Keyes alleged that they found racist and sexist graffiti scrawled on the walls of their dormitory at the HFD’s Station 54. The complaint cited ongoing racial and sexual harassment.

After a leave of absence, Draycott returned to Station 54 in January 2010. That’s when she alleges the station’s captain called a meeting where he read a prepared statement saying he had no confidence in Draycott. Other firefighters allegedly joined in the bashing. Former Houston Fire Chief Phil Boriskie was at the meeting.

The EEOC determination follows independent investigations by the Houston Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the FBI. Those inquiries were inconclusive because there was not enough evidence “to determine the identity of any person or persons who participated in this criminal act,” according to an OIG report.

The EEOC’s determination letter stated,“There is reasonable cause to believe that Charging Party (Draycott) was personally and individually subjected to a hostile work environment based on her gender and that she was retaliated against.”

It continued, “Management was well aware of the fact that Charging Party was being subjected to a hostile work environment because of her gender but failed to take corrective action.”

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