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Volunteer fire dept. settles harassment suit for $15,000

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The Clementon Volunteer Fire Department has decided to settle a sexual harassment suit brought by a young woman who has been a volunteer firefighter since childhood.

Merrissa Garretson had served with the Camden County department since she was 13, serving first as a youth volunteer and probationary firefighter before being promoted to firefighter at age 18.

Garretson originally complained to a deputy chief that male colleagues were making derogatory remarks about her. Then she complained to a town official, who assured her that an investigation had been conducted and corrective action had been taken.

That was news to Garretson, who saw no evidence that anything had been done about the name-calling. She alleges that she then began being bumped from desirable assignments and having equipment taken from her locker. Garretson ultimately filed a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights.

The fire department elected to settle the complaint by paying Garretson $15,000, admitting no wrongdoing and providing her with a positive job reference.

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