Boston and Providence Settle Sexual Harassment Claims for $3.2 Million and $115k Respectively

Two New England cities are in the Fire Law news with settlements of sexual harassment claims resulting in large payouts to female firefighters. In Boston, attorneys for former firefighter Nathalie Fontanez announced that she has accepted a $3.2 million settlement of her sexual harassment and retaliation claims.

Fontanez claimed that she was ostracized by her colleagues after reporting sexually harassment. She also accused a colleague of sexually assaulting her in the firehouse. He ending up be convicted of criminal charges.

Boston.com quoted Fontanez’s attorney, Gloria Allred, as saying: “This result was obtained because of Nathalie’s courage in pursuing this case and her refusal to allow the city of Boston to get away with denying her legal rights to enjoy equal employment opportunity and be free of sexual harassment in the workplace, and retaliation against her for protesting it.”

More on the Boston settlement.

In Providence, a lawsuit filed by Rescue Captain Danielle Masse was settled on the eve of trial for $115,000. Captain Masse claimed she was retaliated against for testifying in support of an earlier lawsuit filed by another female firefighter, Rescue Lieutenant Lori Franchina.

Captain Masse was demoted following a disagreement with a Rhode Island State Trooper over the need to transport a patient to the hospital. An arbitrator later ruled the city was wrong to demote her.

WJAR TV quoted Captain Masse’s attorney, John Martin, as saying “I think Danielle Masse is one of several heroes in the PFD that have stepped up to fight on behalf of women’s rights at the PFD, and that she should be commended for her courage and personal sacrifices.” More on the Providence settlement.

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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