Providence Rescue Officer Awarded $800k For Sexual Harassment

A federal jury took just four hours to award a former Providence Fire Department rescue officer $800,000 in damages for sexual harassment and retaliation.

Rescue Lieutenant Lori Franchina filed suit in 2012 claiming she had been subjected to numerous instances of sexual harassment and retaliation, including incidents where co-workers refused to assist her at emergency scenes.

According to Lt. Franchina’s attorney, John Martin, “There were several calls, emergency calls in which people were fighting for their lives. This lieutenant did not have the subordination or cooperation of her underlings, and it put people in jeopardy. I think that’s why the jury came back to quickly.”

The trial took two weeks to present, with the jury beginning its deliberations last Friday. The verdict was delivered this morning. Besides compensatory damages the award includes $100,000 in punitive damages. According to Martin, “One thing she cannot do without the help of a jury is make changes in this department because it’s unwilling to change by itself.”

The city is vowing to appeal.

More on the story.

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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