Sex Discrimination Settlement Prompts Public Records Request

The settlement of a lawsuit filed by a female candidate for the Kenner, Louisiana Fire Department, has sparked a second lawsuit – this one over access to the terms of the settlement.

Jack Zewe, described in the media as a critic of the city administration, filed suit seeking records related to the city’s defense and settlement of a lawsuit filed by Tanya Virgadamo last year. Virgadamo sued the city in US District Court claiming sex discrimination.

Among her allegations were that she was asked a number of inappropriate questions during her interview, including “whether she objected to ‘the use of obscene language’ in her ‘presence’ and whether Plaintiff objected ‘to seeing males in various state of undress.’”

Virgadamo’s suit was settled last September on confidential terms, and she was hired by the Kenner Fire Department earlier this year. She graduated from the training academy last month.

Zewe is seeking information on the terms of the settlement of Virgadamo’s suit under the state’s public records law, including invoices for the settlement and attorneys fees, as well as a copy of the settlement agreement. The city denied Zewe’s initial request, prompting the filing of the lawsuit.

Here is a copy of Zewe’s suit:  Zewe v Gruntz

Here is a copy of Virgadamo’s complaint:  KFD Lawsuit Virgadamo



About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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