Chicago Fire Faces Sexual Harassment Suit

UPDATED August 13, 2014: The Chicago Fire Department is facing a sexual harassment suit that goes right to the top of the organization: former fire commissioner John Brooks. Former payroll auditor Deidre Green claims Commissioner Brooks pursued her sexually and then targeted her for a layoff when she refused his advances.

Green filed the suit in January, 2014.

CBS Chicago quoted Green as saying:

  • “Every time I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes. I just want to be made whole because I feel I was so wronged”
  • “I was sexually harassed. They tried to fire me. I had a semi-nervous breakdown and was off work for two years on medical leave. I only got 67 percent of my pay. I wasn’t the first to go through this and I won’t be the last. If I get some restitution, maybe this behavior will stop. Or maybe other women will have the courage to report it.”
  • “When he first approached me, I was kind of stunned. I had never gone through anything like this before. He was just becoming commissioner. He had authority over my job. I didn’t know what to say”
  • “It was humiliating, horrific and sad. I don’t want anybody else to have to go through this.”

Back when the allegations first surfaced in 2010, Commissioner Brooks denied Green’s allegations stating: “I do not proposition women. I don’t have to. Women usually proposition me. God has blessed me like that.”

Those remarks prompted Mayor Richard M. Daley to order an independent investigation of the harassment claims that concluded that Brooks’ “behavior and comments were inappropriate for the workplace” but did not amount to wrongdoing. Brooks resigned in 2010, but later sued the city claiming he was wrongfully forced to resign over allegations that were proven to be false.

In 2012 the EEOC concluded there was “reasonable cause to believe” that Green was a victim of sexual harassment.

Here is a copy of Green’s complaint:  Deidre Green v City of Chicago

More on the suit.

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.
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