Pennsylvania FD Settles Sex Discrimination Suit for $365,000

The City of Washington, Pennsylvania has settled a controversial sex discrimination suit brought by the city’s first female firefighter.

Victoria Bozic was fired by the City of Washington on March 5, 2009, after she allegedly misrepresented where she lived during an interrogation about her residency. Six months earlier Bozic had been hired through a settlement of her claims that she had not been hired in 2008 because she was pregnant. The city also gave her a $20,000 payment to settle the pregnancy discrimination claim.

Bozic filed suit in the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania alleging sex-based discrimination, a hostile work environment, and retaliation.  She alleged that officials resisted hiring her in the first place and then terminated her six months later on trumped up charges based a mostly ignored residency requirement.

The settlement seems to have been expedited by a major blunder made by city solicitor Lane Turturice… (er… former city solicitor). Earlier in the proceedings Turturice represented to the US District Court that he misplaced, disposed of, or recorded over a recording of Bozic’s 2009 disciplinary hearing.

Apparently, Turturice located the recording in January of this year and informed the court, prompting U.S. District Court Judge Mark Hornak to instruct Turturice that he needed to obtain legal counsel and was facing possible perjury charges.

The change of events apparently sparked more serious negotiations and a settlement was reach in May. The terms of the settlement remained confidential until this week when the Observer-Reporter obtained a copy of the settlement through a public records request.

Four days after the settlement was reached in May, Turturice resigned and a new city solicitor was appointed. According to the Observer-Reporter, Mayor Brenda Davis said yesterday that the city believes it may be able to recoup some of the money paid in the settlement, and are exploring their options with their new city solicitor, Jack Cambest.

The settlement calls for a $365,000 payment. Bozic will receive $203,548, and her attorney will receive $155,450. Under the settlement, Bozic agreed to not seek future employment with the city.

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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