Posted On: November 4, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

Firefighters File Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kathy Rogers and Lisa Theberge who are two female firefighters filed a lawsuit against Westbrook's fire department, mayor and city administrator, claiming they failed to address sexual harassment that was documented in complaints to the Maine Human Rights Commission ("MHRC"). The MHRC is similar to the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and is where I file most of my sexual harassment complaints. Both women are on paid administrative leave and are alleging obscene sexual harassment and discriminatory behavior in their lawsuit.

According to the allegations in the lawsuit several male firefighters, including the deputy chief, lieutenants and captains, engaged in incidents ranging from masturbation and pornography at the station to a sexual affair and sex at a fire department gathering. In one particular instance it is alleged that the deputy chief once approached Theberge and began stroking her hair. He was put on unpaid administrative leave for two weeks and, the lawsuit says, ''allowed to take it a day each week for his convenience.'' Some male firefighters groped female victims in the rescue vehicle and bragged about it afterwards. They were put on unpaid administrative leave for two weeks, discipline that Webber, one of the attorney's for the two firefighters called ''disproportionate to their conduct.''

''Sexual harassment is alive and well in the city of Westbrook at a level that's shocking to imagine,'' Webber said.

In cases like this females are sometimes reluctant to come forward for fear of retaliation. It is very important to get an attorney involved early in the process to protect your rights. My office handles cases in Chicago and throughout the state of Illinois. Don't be afraid to protect your rights if you are the victim at work of sexual harassment.

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