Fairfax County Fire Rescue Releases Latest Report on Gender Allegations

Fairfax County has released its report on the allegations made by Battalion Chief Kathleen Stanley, who resigned her position as Women’s Program Officer in January. Chief Stanley accused the department of tolerating and defending sexual harassment, retaliation and a hostile work environment.

The 14-page report dated March 9, 2018 was written by Deputy County Executive for Public Safety David Rohrer and directed to County Executive Bryan Hill. It methodically reviews Chief Stanley’s allegations but appears to shed little more light on the topics than has been previously disclosed.

From the report:

  • DHR Director Cathy Spage and I met with Battalion Chief Stanley on February 7, 2018, to listen to her concerns and to ensure that the correct matters to which she had referred to in her letter were identified for review.
  • Battalion Chief Stanley did not include all of the context or facts for some of the matters, including importantly that some had been previously reported and investigated.
  • She said that she chose to focus on the climate or work environment in which the behaviors had allegedly occurred.
  • During my review of the allegations raised by Battalion Chief Stanley, several uniformed women in FRD contacted me and expressed their concerns that their personal matters, as reported in Battalion Chief Stanley’s letter, were used without their permission and were taken out of context, specifically that their original complaints to FRD had not involved any real or perceived discrimination or harassment based on gender.
  • These women have asked that their confidentiality be maintained.

While careful not to directly criticize Chief Stanley, Rhorer’s report contradicted several of her assertions, particularly as far as she claimed that inappropriate conduct was tolerated by the department’s leadership.

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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