Chicago Fire Investigating Harassment Charges At Fire Academy

The Chicago Fire Department is investigating claims by African American female firefighter-recruits that dog feces was smeared on a sweatshirt and a chair in their changing area at the fire academy. Their attorney claims the feces was someone’s way of saying “We don’t want you here.”

The feces was discovered last week in a changing room used by 13 female African-American firefighter candidates, all of whom are in their 40s and 50s. The candidates applied to the Chicago Fire Department 20 years ago, but were rejected. Following the settlement of two class action lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination, the 13 women were admitted to the fire academy.

An attorney representing the candidates, Marni Willenson, said “It’s an unambiguous message: “We don’t want you here.” Whoever did this is saying, “We don’t want you here.'”


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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