From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Current and former female firefighters of the United States Forest Service have filed a complaint with the Department of Agriculture alleging that they suffered job discrimination, harassment and sexual abuse at the hands of male co-workers and that top agency officials failed to stop it.
The women said the complaint, the first step in a potential class-action lawsuit, was filed late last month on behalf of hundreds of women who worked in the Forest Service’s Region 5, which encompasses more than 20 million acres in 18 national forests in California. The seven women who are the lead complainants said they faced retaliation when they reported the offenses to superiors….
One of the current complainants, Alicia Dabney, a former firefighter in the Sequoia National Forest in Centerville, Calif., said in an interview that she was the subject of repeated verbal abuse and physical taunts. “It was a frat boy atmosphere,” said Ms. Dabney, who was usually the only woman on her 20-person crew. “You are often isolated because where you work is so remote.”
Ms. Dabney said that her supervisor, who is still employed by the Forest Service, put her in a chokehold and tried to rape her in 2012. In another instance, she said, fliers with the words “Alicia Dabney is a whore” were left on the floor of the fire station.
She said that after she reported the harassment, the Forest Service fired her in 2012, citing what her superiors said was her failure to disclose her past criminal record on her job application. Ms. Dabney said that the agency had long known about her record and that “this was dredged up after I complained.”….
The current gender discrimination complaint is similar to ones filed in the 1970s and 1990s by female workers in Region 5 who said they were denied promotions and harassed by male co-workers. As part of the settlements stemming from those complaints, the Agriculture Department required the Forest Service in California to hire more women and to put in place civil rights enforcement programs, sensitivity training and a unit to investigate and resolve sexual harassment and hostile environment claims.
Read the entire article here.