Albuquerque Firefighter Awarded $180K for Sexual Harassment

A New Mexico jury has awarded an Albuquerque firefighter $183,550 for sexual harassment.

Adele Parker Ortega filed suit in 2013 claiming that co-workers spied on her in the shower, hid sex toys in her bunk, stole her underwear, watched pornography at fire stations, and made inappropriate sexual jokes at her expense. The jury took just four hours to reach their verdict, agreeing that she had been sexually harassed.

The jury ruled against Parker Ortego on her allegation that the department retaliated against her. She claimed that the fire department wrongfully denied her request for reasonable accommodations following an injury, but the jury denied her claim.

Albuquerque Fire Chief David Downey has vowed the department will learn from the ruling. He ordered sweeping changes to sexual harassment training and supervisor responsibilities.


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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