DC Sued Over Firehouse Sexual Assault

A firefighter with the District of Columbia has filed suit claiming that a supervisor physically assaulted her in the firehouse, and that she was retaliated against once she reported it. Anaje Boyd filed suit in US District Court for the District of Columbia alleging violations of Title VII and the DC Human Rights Act, as well as retaliation.

Boyd claims she was working an overtime assigned at Engine 14 on April 25, 2020. Lieutenant Antwan Jordan was her supervisor. According to the complaint:

  • On April 25, 2020, during a night shift, Ms. Boyd was asleep in the bunk room of Engine 14. She felt a presence near her, and, when she opened her eyes, she found Lt. Jordan standing over her.
  • Lt. Jordan informed her that she had just been relieved of duty and that her Officer in Command was looking for her. Lt. Jordan then proceeded to lean in close to Ms. Boyd and whisper in her ear, “with your sexy ass.”
  • Ms. Boyd immediately felt uncomfortable and waited for Lt. Jordan to exit the bunk room. He initially left the bunk room but immediately returned asked Ms. Boyd if she left anything on the ambulance. She stated that she left her go-bag.
  • In response, Lt. Jordan walked up to her and said, “so you didn’t leave this?” and forcibly put his hand down Ms. Boyd’s shirt into her bra and squeezed her right breast. Ms. Boyd grabbed his hand and tried to remove it from her breast but he refused to move it. Instead, he attempted to grab her left breast. He then whispered, “let me get out of here” and walked back out of the bunkroom for the second time.
  • Ms. Boyd was shaken by the assault. She gathered all her belongings and left the firehouse.
  • Shortly after the incident with Lt. Jordan, Ms. Boyd was sitting in the parking lot and felt something in her bra. When she reached down into her bra, she discovered two twenty- dollar bills.
  • After this traumatic incident, Ms. Boyd drove to the Engine Company 28.
  • When Ms. Boyd arrived at the firehouse, she sent Lt. Jordan a text expressing that his actions were disrespectful and left her feeling violated.
  • On April 26, 2020, a day later, Ms. Boyd reported to Lt. Martin McMahon, Ms. Boyd’s general supervisor, that Lt. Jordan sexually harassed her. She also told Lt. McMahon that she wished to file an EEO complaint.
  • In response, Lt. McMahon told Ms. Boyd that he was going to contact the EEO Office.
  • On April 27, 2020, two days after Lt. Jordan sexually harassed Ms. Boyd, Ms. Boyd filed a police report against Lt. Jordan with the Metropolitan Police Department.
  • Lt. McMahon advised Ms. Boyd that after he attempted to contact the EEO office, he was instructed by Chief Simister to contact Amy Mauro.
  • Lt. McMahon advised Ms. Boyd that she should contact Ms. Mauro because the previous Acting EEO officer had resigned.
  • While Ms. Boyd spoke with Ms. Mauro about her complaint of sexual harassment and assault, and after Ms. Boyd told Ms. Mauro that she had already filed a police report, Ms.
  • Mauro appeared irritated based on her tone, which was aggressive and curt.
  • At no point during the conversation did Ms. Mauro ever inform Ms. Boyd that she was not an EEO counselor.
  • At no point during the conversation did Ms. Mauro notify Ms. Boyd of any other process or procedure for reporting harassment.
  • During the conversation, Ms. Mauro affirmatively misled and improperly advised Ms. Boyd that she could not pursue an EEO complaint.
  • Specifically, Ms. Mauro stated that because Ms. Boyd reported the assault to Metropolitan Police Department, she must “wait” and that there could not be an investigation into her harassment complaint while the criminal process was ongoing.
  • Ms. Boyd relied on this misleading assertion by Ms. Mauro and therefore did not pursue a complaint of harassment at the time.
  • In addition to sharing the harassment and assault with Ms. Mauro, Ms. Boyd also informed her that, as a result of being sexually assaulted and groped in the workplace, she was experiencing significant distress and needed leave.
  • Ms. Boyd also feared for her physical safety if she returned to the workplace, as she was aware that Lt. Jordan remained on duty.
  • At 10:15 a.m. on May 4, 2020, Ms. Boyd emailed Ms. Mauro and asked Ms. Mauro about her leave options.
  • Ms. Mauro approved Ms. Boyd’s request for leave for only the next two tours of duty.
  • Ms. Mauro’s decision to give Ms. Boyd only two days off was detrimental to Ms. Boyd’s mental health, as she feared for her physical safety given the sexual assault she experienced in the workplace.
  • Upon information and belief, at the time of Ms. Boyd’s communications with Ms. Mauro regarding leave, Lt. Jordan continued to work regular shifts.
  • Upon information and belief, before requiring Ms. Boyd to return to the workplace, Defendant took no action to ensure that Lt. Jordan did not have any contact with Ms. Boyd or to ensure the two were separated.
  • In or around 2021, Ms. Boyd learned that DC FEMS employees were discussing her complaint of sexual harassment and assault.
  • Ms. Boyd’s coworker, Robert Lowery, told Ms. Boyd that “rumor ha[d] it” Lt. Jordan touched her. Ms. Boyd asked how he knew this information, and he told Ms. Boyd, “everyone’s talking about it.”
  • On June 27, 2022, Lt. Jordan was convicted of sex abuse in the District of Columbia Superior Court and sentenced to 120 days of incarceration. The execution of the sentence was suspended, and the court ordered a $50 fee and that Lt. Jordan be under supervised probation for 12 months.

The essence of Boyd’s retaliation claim is that the District impeded her ability to have her claims investigated, resulting in her suffering financial damages and emotional distress.

Here is a copy of the complaint.

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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