Indiana Captain Speaks Out About Retaliation Lawsuit

An Indiana fire captain who claims she was retaliated against after complaining about degrading comments made by a chief officer, is speaking publicly about her lawsuit. Captain Holly Volz filed suit against the City of Fort Wayne earlier this year, accusing the fire department of sexual harassment, retaliation, and disability discrimination.

Captain Volz claims that while catching her breath at a fire scene in August 2017, a chief told her “I don’t even want you here, I want someone who can do this job, you can’t do this job.” She claims the comments were made in front of subordinates and civilians, and that they humiliated her and damaged her reputation.

In February, 2018, she filed a formal complaint about the August, 2017 incident. She also complained that the same chief had been referring to her as a “whiney [C-word].” After filing the complaint, she claims she was retaliated against by being treated differently by the department and her coworkers. She alleges that she was blamed for a department-wide sexual harassment training program.

In December 2018, Captain Volz was unable to pass her annual fitness evaluation. She was referred to the department doctor, who ordered her to enter a work hardening program. She alleges the department deviated from its normal procedures for those unable to complete a fitness evaluation, and should have been permitted to retake the evaluation within 72 hours.

Here is a link to the news video complete with Captain Volz’s interview (I was not able to embed it here).

A departmental investigation cleared the chief of any wrongdoing. However, the Fort Wayne Metropolitan Human Relations Commission found probable cause to believe Captain Volz had been the victim of gender-based discrimination and retaliation. It found probable cause to be lacking on the disability discrimination claim. Here is a copy of the complaint which is pending in US District Court for the Northern District of Indiana:

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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