FDNY Settles ‘Boys’ Club’ Sex Harassment Suit

FDNY Settles ‘Boys’ Club’ Sex Harassment Suit

The New York City Fire Department agreed to settle a suit which claimed the department ignored a female paramedic's complaints about unwelcome sexual advances from supervisors and co-workers, then punished her for speaking up.

The case was dismissed after Maria Miranda struck a settlement deal with New York City and the FDNY. The terms of the preliminary settlement were not included in the January 10th order.

The dismissal comes after the FDNY lost a motion to dismiss in October. Defendants argued in August that many of Miranda's claims were barred by a statute of limitations and that she failed to state hostile work environment, retaliation and discrimination claims.

Miranda, who has served as an FDNY paramedic since 2013, said in her January 2021 complaint that the FDNY's "boys' club" atmosphere emboldened male supervisors to sexually harass female workers and let reports of harassment slide, while punishing female employees who speak up.

The male-dominated culture became apparent when she began working at a firehouse on Manhattan's Lower East Side in 2014, when both her supervising lieutenant and another paramedic began asking Miranda out for dates and started sending her unsolicited nude pictures of themselves, according to her suit.

Miranda made several complaints to the department, as well as an internal complaint lodged by another lieutenant, but the harassment continued, she said in the complaint.

However, her complaints to the FDNY’s Equal Employment Opportunity office about her supervisor inappropriately yelling at her did result in his reassignment and a new supervisor was appointed. Miranda further claimed that the new supervisor lashed out at her, blaming his scheduling switch on her complaints.

This new supervisor wrote Miranda up for continuous allegations of failing to follow work rules, failed to timely submit her time sheets and denied her overtime hours, the lawsuit said.

Miranda reported the new supervisor to the EEO office for taking a picture of her chest, she claimed. Five other women also claimed they'd been harassed by the supervisor, but the EEO office did nothing for her or the other women, according to the suit. Her complaints to the supervisor's captain were similarly ignored, and instead led to further retaliation, she claimed.

After escalating and reporting the supervisor's harassment to a deputy chief in May 2020, she was then put on "vacation relief" to fill in for other paramedics, which meant she had to deal with more dangerous assignments than usual, her suit said.

She lodged another complaint with the FDNY's EEO office in June 2020, saying the shift to vacation duty was retaliation for reporting the harassment against her. The office responded again saying there was not enough evidence to corroborate her claims, according to the suit.

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