You Can’t Win Them All

A retired battalion chief from the Kansas City (Missouri)
Fire Department who won two previous Federal court cases for sexual
discrimination in 1999 (Kline I) and 2006 (Kline II), finally lost a case (Kline
. On December 22, 2009, a Jackson County Circuit Court jury ruled against Chief
Kathleen Kline’s claims of sex discrimination.

Chief Kline's previous lawsuits were instrumental in highlighting the challenges faced by women in the fire service. They addressed an overall lack of concern that many fire departments showed toward female firefighters, from providing ill-fitting protective clothing to totally inadequate facilities for showering, changing, and sleeping.

The basis of Chief Kline’s latest suit was that the city’s
continued failure to provide adequate facilities for female firefighters in its
stations was discriminatory (an issue she has previously prevailed upon in
Kline I and Kline II) and retaliatory toward her. Chief Kline also alleged that the department retaliated
against her because of her previous lawsuits by denying her permission to trade
assignments with another chief.

After the verdict, Chief Kline is reported to have told reporters that her lawyer may file a
motion for a new trial. Given that both Kline I and Kline II were appealed, it
seems a good bet that Kline III will not end here. Stay tuned!!!!!

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • John K. Murphy

    We need to see this example of a department continuing in it’s reluctance to accept women as valuable members of the fire service. It would have been cheaper installing women only bathrooms in the fire stations than in litigating against this request and probably a previous court order. Compounding the insult is the alleged discrimination against a valued member of the department. We does the fire service learn from these issues and stop this behavior?


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