New Hampshire Firefighter Claims He Was Sexually Harassed

A New Hampshire firefighter who resigned last December after enduring what he claims was years of sexually harassing comments and retaliation is now suing his former employer. Christopher R. Golomb filed suit against the City of Concord last month in Merrimack County Superior Court.

The suit alleges gender discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation under federal and state law. The city had the case removed to US District Court for the District of New Hampshire.

Golomb claims that the harassment began back in 2011 with comments about him being gay, despite him being heterosexual. He began keeping track of the comments by writing them down and eventually complaining to the city’s human resources department about them in 2016. A formal investigation was not conducted and the harassment continued. In 2020, after a series of incidents occurred he again filed a complaint, which led to an independent investigation.

After filing the complaint, Golomb claims he was ostracized by colleagues, hyper-scrutinized by his officers, and transferred against his wishes. The investigation found no evidence of a hostile environment or retaliation, but did find “that inappropriate behavior which runs counter to [the department’s] Policy on Non- Discrimination and Sexual Harassment occurred.”

Unable to deal with the harassment, Golomb resigned in December, 2023. He is alleging his resignation constituted a constructive termination.

Here is a copy of the complaint. Those who have been through Managing Disciplinary Challenges in the Fire Service as well as the more advanced classes will recognize a very common fact pattern we see all too often: index-card problems; failure to recognize and handle employee problems early through an objective and formal investigation process; and the failure to recognize and stop retaliation. If we recognize these issues early they can be managed without anyone needing to be disciplined – and long before an alienated employee has any thoughts about filing a lawsuit. Ignoring these challenges too often leads to a predictable outcome.

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.
x

Check Also

Hotel Owners Sue Fire District and Fire Marshal Over Closure

The owners of a California hotel have filed suit against a city, a fire protection district, a building inspector, and a fire marshal claiming they unlawfully “red tagged” the building resulting in economic damages in the millions. The owners filed suit against the City of Anderson, Anderson Fire Protection District, city building inspector Brad Hawkins, fire marshal Steven Allred alleging a violation of their constitutional rights.

Fire Law Headlines: New York and Miami-Dade Follow-Up

There are two cases in the Fire Law headlines today, both being follow-ups of cases we covered previously. In New York, the Supreme Court for Oswego County has ruled that individual taxpayers lack standing to challenge a tax increase imposed by a fire district.