Ohio FD Tagged for $1.7 Million in Sex Discrimination Suit

 

An Ohio jury has awarded a former female firefighter $1.7 million for sex discrimination. They also ordered her Lieutenant to pay $75,000 for his role in the case.

Raechel Sterud, 32, alleged that Orange Township Fire Department and her officer, Lieutenant Keith Myers, discriminated against her leading to her termination in January, 2008. She was still on probation at the time.

Sterud claims that she complained to Lt. Meyers about being harassed, and that not only did he fail to address it, he maliciously recommended her termination prior to her completing probation and having union protection.

In the trial, a key piece of evidence was an email from a firefighter to Lt. Meyers that warned that Sterud planned to file a formal complaint once she had union protection. Sterud was terminated two weeks prior to her completion of probation.

There was also testimony that:

  • during sexual-harassment training, videos were shown on a split screen television so firefighters also could watch a NASCAR race;
  • one firefighter told other firefighters that he transferred to work with Sterud so he could sleep with her;
  • the same firefighter moved his sleeping quarters closer to Sterud’s and persisted in using the fire station’s womans’ bathroom.

The case was tried last week with the verdict being rendered this week.

More on the story.

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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