Chicago Paramedics in Line for $1.83 Million Sexual Harassment Settlement

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John Byrne

Chicago Tribune


Five Chicago Fire Department paramedics are in line to share a $1.83 million settlement in their lawsuit alleging they were sexually harassed at the department and officials ignored their complaints about the treatment.

The City Council Finance Committee approved the settlement Monday for the five women. The full council will consider it Wednesday.

In their federal suit, the women said they were groped, stalked and forced to endure repeated sexually explicit remarks from Fire Department superiors.

Related: Pro Bono: Is Reporting Rape an EMS Obligation?

The 57-page suit alleges the city has failed to deter a long-standing, pervasive culture of sexual harassment throughout the department’s firehouses and facilities, allowing men accused of wrongdoing to remain on the job while their accusers were often put on medical leave.

One woman said in the suit that the city opened a disciplinary investigation against her after she complained about the way her colleague was treating her.

The conditions have been exacerbated by the city’s failure to provide equal facilities for women, from adequate bathrooms to separate sleeping quarters, according to the suit.

Some aldermen said the city should sue the men who harassed the women, to try to get them to pay the settlements from their Fire Department pensions. But city attorney Renai Rodney said the city wouldn’t be successful in trying to recover the money, and would only spend more money trying in vain to do so.

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