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You may recall the 2016 sexual harassment story from the San Francisco Fire Department that resulted in the transfer of eight officers and firefighters from Station 2 in Chinatown. The transfers occurred after a female firefighter reported a six-month campaign against her that included verbal harassment and finding urine and feces in her bed. That news came during a particularly bad week for the department that included stories about a paramedic having sex with a civilian in the back of an ambulance and a firefighter accused of stealing fire department property to use in his sprinkler business.
A new lawsuit provides another view of what was going on at the Chinatown station. The firefighters transferred say they didn’t harass the female firefighter and claim there was an abusive work environment for the male firefighters because of an affair the female firefighter was having with her battalion chief.
“In fact, it was plaintiffs who received differential treatment based on gender due to Romero and (the woman’s) affair,” (attorney Raven)Sarnoff wrote. “Firefighters observed that (the woman) did not sleep in her own bed in the dorm at the firehouse, and observations made all the more obvious by the fact that (her) alarm clock would go off in the mornings, sometimes for as long as 45 minutes, with no one in her bed to turn it off.”
Guzman, one of the plaintiffs, saw the female firefighter running from Romero’s room during one early-morning fire call, the suit says.
The “widespread sexual favoritism created a hostile and abusive work environment for the male firefighters who worked at Station 2,” the suit says. “Romero was fiercely protective of (the woman), and aggressively retaliated against anyone who he and/or (she) perceived as having slighted her.”
The eight command staffers charge the investigation was “not fair or impartial” and that the rookie female firefighter was actually involved in a long intimate relationship with Battalion Chief Sam Romero, who was in charge of the station.
The group says Romero, who is also being sued, gave the female firefighter “preferential treatment” and that their relationship interfered with the work of other more senior firefighters, some of whom supervised her training and performance. They claim the relationship created “a hostile and abusive” work environment which “endangered the firefighters’ safety.”