San Francisco EMT Sues FD and Her Colleagues for Discrimination

A former EMT with the San Francisco Fire Department is suing the department and several of her colleagues for discrimination on the basis of her sexual orientation. Jennifer Galarza filed suit in San Francisco County Superior Court alleging she was wrongfully terminated and harassed because she is a lesbian.

Galarza alleges she was hired in April, 2016 and terminated on May 26, 2017. She claims she was “bullied, belittled and treated with hostility by her colleagues” throughout her tenure and was dismissed without being told why. She specifically accuses three co-workers, James Miekle, Taylor Manfredi, and Chelsea Meyers, of perpetrating the harassment against her. Each are named defendants in the suit.

According to the complaint:

  • During PLAINTIFF’s one year employment, she was bullied, belittled and treated with hostility by her colleagues including the Individual Defendants.
  • PLAINTIFF was subjected to many inappropriate and sexist comments about women in the Department, as well as negative comments about her sexual orientation by managers and employees of the San Francisco Fire Department.
  • PLAINTIFF’S coworkers and those who outranked her constantly criticized her for insignificant matters, laughed at her, shunned or ignored her in a concerted effort to make her life so miserable she would quit.
  • On one occasion, Defendants MIEKLE and MANFREDI made gagging noises in her presence when PLAINTIFF approached them.
  • On or about May 12, 2017, PLAINTIFF found a notebook belonging to Defendant MIEKLE which contained many false statements and observations about her.
  • Management had requested Defendant MIEKLE to keep the notebook or collect information about PLAINTIFF to make her look like she was not performing satisfactorily, so she could be fired because she was a lesbian-female.
  • PLAINTIFF further believes that Defendant MANFREDI and others, including management, were collectively involved in this effort.
  • On the same day PLAINTIFF found Defendant MIEKLE’s notebook, he went to speak with the Captain of the Department. The next day, PLAINTIFF was placed on light duty and was instructed not to report to work as previously scheduled. PLAINTIFF was also told she was under investigation but, she was never given a reason why and she was not interviewed.
  • On or about May 26, 2017, PLAINTIFF was terminated without being given a reason.

The five-count complaint alleges sexual orientation discrimination, sexual orientation harassment, gender discrimination, gender harassment, and retaliation, all in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (no federal allegations).

Here is a copy of the complaint: Galarza v San Francisco

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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