Rochester Firefighter Claims Domestic Violence and Gender Discrimination

A Rochester firefighter who claims to have been the victim of domestic violence and sexual harassment at work, has filed suit against the City of Rochester. The firefighter, identified as Jane Doe, claims that the city failed to protect her from domestic violence as required by state law and city policy, and that she was sexually harassed by coworkers at work.

Doe alleges that her former domestic partner, a man who worked for a fire equipment vendor who serviced the fire department, used his contacts within the department to track her on-duty whereabouts, and that that city failed to safe-guard her from him. The nine-count, 47-page, 479 paragraph complaint is replete with examples of Doe asking fire department officials for accommodations that would (a) prevent the abuser (identified as John Smith) from learning her whereabouts, and (b) avoid her from having to work with certain firefighters who she felt uncomfortable working with.

The complaint filed in US District Court for the Western District of New York alleges violations of her equal protection rights and retaliation under the 14th Amendment; gender discrimination and retaliation under state law, domestic violence harassment and retaliation under state law; failure to accommodate and retaliation under state law; and negligence.

Here is a copy of the complaint along with a DEI study of the department completed in 2023.

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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