Male on Male Sexual Harassment Suit Dismissed in South Bend

The male-on-male sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a South Bend, Indiana firefighter in February, 2009 has been dismissed. Firefighter John Banacki claimed that a male firefighter rubbed up against him in a sexual manner on at least three occasions in 2007 while the two worked together at Station 6.

Banacki alleged that when he complained to superiors about the inappropriate behavior, he was further discriminated against and transferred. He filed suit in Federal District Court claiming that the behavior and retaliation created a sexually hostile work environment.

Magistrate Christopher Nuechterlein dismissed the suit law week, concluding that:

"In light of the admittedly bawdy humor and practical jokes that Banacki and other firefighters at Station 6 engaged in … it is hard to accept Banacki’s claim that he found the particular incident directed at him to be so beyond the pale of accepted conduct that the incident changed the conditions of his work environment, or that he actually found it offensive."

Magistrate Nuechterlein also found that the department responded appropriately to the complaint by promptly investigating the allegations. He rejected the retaliation allegation, finding that Banacki was content with the transfer and suffered no financial loss.

Read the decision: Download Banacki v South Bend – Copy

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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