California Firefighter and City Settle Discrimination Suit

A lawsuit accusing the La Habra Heights Fire Department of religious discrimination and sexual harassment, has been settled. Former volunteer firefighter Jared Hartstein filed the suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2016, accusing the department of terrorizing him throughout his five months of training.

Hartstein claims his colleagues referred to him as “Bear Jew”; made fun of his Jewish heritage; drew swastikas on his papers; gave him a Nazi salutes; turned off his SCBA during an entanglement drill; required him to perform a rap song to complete one of his presentation proficiencies; asked him if he was gay; called him “Blower Boy”; and otherwise humiliated him to the point he suffered PTSD. He resigned in December, 2015.

According to the court file, the case was close to coming to trial when the settlement was reached. The terms of the settlement are not available.

Attached is a copy of the settlement agreement:

Here is the original complaint.  

Here is news coverage.

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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