4 Black Female Firefighters File $10 Million Lawsuit Against DC Fire Over Discrimination – NBCNEWS

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four black female firefighters have filed a $10 million discrimination lawsuit against the DC Fire and Emergency Services Department (DC FEMS), according to multiple reports.

In their suits, veteran firefighters Jadonna Sanders, Shalonda Smith, Takeva Thomas and Bolatito Ajose claimed they were subjected to gender and racial discrimination during their tenures. The women said the misconduct took place in the form of pay and promotions. They also claimed to be members “stricter discipline than their white colleagues”, according to WTOP.

“These four women are longstanding, successful firefighters, but their tenures at DC Fire and Emergency (Medical) Services have been fraught with disparate treatment…there is a systematic, historical negation of complaints from black women at DC FEMS. They complain of being harassed or bullied, they are ignored; if they complain about unequal or unfair treatment, they are ignored,” their attorney Pam Keith said in a statement.

The women, who are former and current certified paramedics in the Fire Prevention Department, said they were not paid a premium, while other police force employees received compensation. Now they are seeking $10 million in damages for the mental and emotional damage they suffered in the “hostile work environment,” the suit said.

Plaintiff Ajose alleged that she had mental problems due to a discriminatory policy that DC FEMS allegedly implemented in 2006. Under the provision, female firefighters were “forced to take pregnancy tests and had to undergo negative tests to remain on duty”. FOX 5 DC reported. Ajose, who was pregnant at the time, had an abortion for fear of losing her job. She claimed in the lawsuit that she continues to suffer from mental and emotional pain as a result of the abusive policies. Ajose is the only claimant still working with DC FEMS.

“It’s been 21 years and there’s always something that’s unfair when it comes to just being a woman or a brown woman in the fire department,” Ajose told Fox 5.

Their attorney Pam Keith echoed a similar sentiment. “This case is about systemic features of DC FEMS that make it a ‘boys’ club’ in which black women are tolerated but not embraced or treated as equals, and in which black women must always beg, scrape and fight to be treated fairly.”


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