Indiana Recruit Claims Sex Discrimination

A female recruit who was fired on graduation day from the Fort Wayne Fire Department’s training academy in 2014, has filed suit alleging gender discrimination.

Victoria Bolden filed suit on July 21, 2016 claiming that her termination on June 10, 2014 was based on her gender. The suit was filed in Allen County Superior Court, which unfortunately does not have copies of court documents available online.

According to the Journal Gazette, Bolden’s complaint alleges that:

  • Assistant Chief Paul Veldman told her that “based on his personal observations,” she lacked the hands-on skills necessary to be a firefighter
  • Chief Veldman wrote to Fire Chief Eric Lahey recommending she be fired
  • Chief Lahey fired Bolden “due to her alleged lack of ‘hands-on fire skills’”
  • Bolden alleges that the “hands on skills” in question are supposed to be developed once assigned to fire stations as a probationary employee
  • After her termination, Bolden filed a complaint with the Metropolitan Human Relations Commission
  • During the course of the MHRC investigation, Chief Veldman reportedly told MHRC officials that “females lack interest in becoming firefighters and that many are single mothers, which create an issue” given the 24-hour shifts
  • Chief Veldman is reported to also have expressed his concerns about the dorm-style sleeping quarters with women sleeping adjacent to men
  • The MHRC investigation concluded that there was reason to believe Bolden had been discriminated against

I will post a copy of the complaint if one becomes available online. Here is 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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