Orlando Settles Sexual Harassment Suit for Nearly $1 Million

The City of Orlando has settled a sexual harassment suit brought by an assistant chief against the fire department and former Fire Chief Roderick Williams. Assistant Fire Chief Dawn Sumter filed the suit last year, but her claims date back to 2017.

Chief Sumter claims she was harassed and assaulted by Chief Williams when he was the fire chief. She claims she was later retaliated against by being repeatedly passed over for promotion to deputy chief, transferred to a less desirable position, excluded from career development opportunities, removed from successful activities she was engaged in, and having confidential information about her claims leaked to the membership. Here is earlier coverage.

Under the settlement, Chief Sumter will retire on April 1, 2021, and will receive a payment of $495,000, with an additional $450,000 over the lifetime of her pension.  Chief Williams stepped down in 2019 following the release of an EEOC report into the allegations.

WFTV9 in Orlando has video coverage of the settlement, but it could not be embedded here. Here is the link.

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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