Washington Firefighter Claims He was Sexually Harassed by Instructor

A Washington firefighter has filed suit claiming he was sexually harassed during his fire academy training by an instructor. Keanan Metcalfe filed suit in Snohomish County Superior Court naming the City of Everett, Snohomish County, Snohomish County Fire Protection, South County Fire and South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue.

Metcalfe, a firefighter with South County Fire, claims that Chau Nguyen harassed him and other academy recruits while they were in training at the Snohomish County Fire Training Academy in 2019. Nguyen, who has since resigned, had been a firefighter with the City of Everett since 2018. He was apparently serving as an instructor at the county academy despite only having been on the job in Everett for one year.

A copy of the complaint is not available, but confirmation has been made that the suit was filed on November 17, 2022. The Herald quoted from a report completed by Everett HR Director Kandy Bartlett that found Nguyen’s conduct was inappropriate:

  • There is substantial evidence provided by multiple individuals that Mr. Nguyen only engaged in unethical and unprofessional behavior towards probationary employees.
  • He acted one way in front of probationary employees and another way in front of supervisors and company officers.
  • Probationary employees can be terminated for any reason during their trial period, and are therefore less likely to complain, particularly about the conduct of an experienced firefighter with a role in their training.

A copy of the complaint will be posted here if/when available. Here is more on the story from the Herald.

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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