Texas Fire Department Facing Same-Sex Sexual Harassment Suit

The City of Beaumont, Texas is facing a sexual harassment suit filed by a former fire department employee against the city and Fire Chief Anne Huff. Former Fire Administrator Ashley Scott claims that Chief Huff made overt sexual advances toward her and when she rebuffed the chief’s advances she was disciplined and ultimately terminated.

From the complaint:

  • Plaintiff has been sexual [sic] harassed by Huff since shortly after being employed with the Fire Department
  • Chief Anne Huff… has presented herself as an unpredictable person… and driven by her unrequited attraction for Plaintiff Scott.
  • After [an event they both attended] Chief Huff invited Plaintiff Scott to Chief Huff’s home for wine.
  • Plaintiff declined and said it was late and she needed to go since she had to come into “work early the next morning.
  • Chief Huff told Plaintiff it was “ok if [Plaintiff] came in late to work since [Chief Huff] was the boss.”
  • Plaintiff again declined, and drove home.
  • Chief Huff barraged Plaintiff with numerous Facebook messages.
  • Undetermined [sic] by Plaintiff Scott’s rejection, Chief Huff invited Plaintiff over to watch TV at her home in Katy.
  • Not long thereafter, Chief Huff professed to Plaintiff Scott her affection for Scott.
  • After many rebuffed advances, Chief Huff grew upset with Plaintiff associating with men in the Fire Department.
  • Chief Huff displayed signs of jealousy when it came to Plaintiff.
  • In January 2015. Chief Huff made the workplace a hostile environment for Plaintiff
  • On May 6, 2015, the retaliation of Chief Huff began in earnest.
  • Chief Huff came into Plaintiff’s office and stated she wanted to start tracking how Plaintiff was spending her day.
  • Shortly after, Chief Huff informed Plaintiff that she was going to get rid of the Fire Administrator position and split it to 2 positions.
  • Chief Huff then told Plaintiff that she was paid too much to enter data.

The nine page suit alleges sexual harassment, retaliation and constitutional violations. It was filed yesterday in Jefferson County District Court.

Scott is seeking between $200,000 and $1 million in damages. KFDM.com quoted Chief Huff as saying: “I am completely confident and excited about going to litigation over this because I’ve done nothing wrong and that will be proven out in court.”

Here is a copy of the complaint: Scott v Beaumont

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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