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Posted On: January 4, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit By Female Firefighter Settled for $150,000

A sexual Harassment lawsuit filed by female firefighter Stacy Conaway who claims she was sexually harassed by former Assistant Chief John Wagner and that department officials retaliated when the harassment was reported settled for $150,000.

Conaway also claims retaliation as a result of the reporting of the sexual harassment. Retaliation occurs when an adverse action is taken to try to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory practice, or from participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. The day after Wagner’s resignation, Conaway found a dent that looked like it was caused by a firefighters boot in her Chevrolet Tahoe that was parked in the Fire Department’s lot. Soon after reporting the harassment she received less-desirable job assignments--such as being moved from a firefighting position to administrative staff. This is a form of retaliation.

Soon after Conaway began work, she said that Wagner gave her unwanted gifts, including a negligee, a vibrator and an X-rated movie which she threw away. After not first reporting the incident two department captains told Conaway that she should report Wagner’s behavior, but Conaway said she was reluctant to do so because of possible negative consequences.

Then Wagner compared her breasts to the breasts of a woman taking the department’s physical agility test, and said the applicant must have used Conaway’s doctor--Conaway had breast augmentation surgery, and Wagner was aware of it. Conaway’s supervisor became aware of Wagner’s comments and reported them to city officials.

In Illinois as in other states, both the harassor and company or city the harassor works for may be liable for sexual harassment. Additionally if the supervisor is aware of the behavior and does nothing to stop the behavior, he may also have liability.

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