L.A. Fire Department settles firefighter's harassment case
The Los Angeles Fire Department must pay almost $500,000 to settle a case filed on behalf of a male firefighter who was harassed by coworkers over a sexual abuse suit linked to the Catholic Church.
Anthony Almeida, a firefighter and engineer with the department, filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2007, alleging that he was continually harassed by fellow firefighters at his station.
The alleged harassment began in 2006 after Almeida filed a lawsuit against the L.A. Archdiocese over sexual abuse.
According to the commission, a coworker learned about the suit and several others mocked him, using explicit and offensive religious and sexual epithets.
On Tuesday, the department announced a $494,150 settlement in the case. The department must continue to enforce its policies against discrimination, harassment and retaliation. The department will also offer an external equal employment opportunity complaint procedure.
"By working with the EEOC this way, the Department is sending a message that no further civil rights abuses will be tolerated -- a key responsibility of all employers," said Olophius Perry, district director for the EEOC’s Los Angeles district office, in a statement.
According to its website, the Fire Department employs more than 3,500 uniformed personnel and has 103 neighborhood fire stations.
The Fire Department did not return calls seeking comment.
-- Dalina Castellanos