Orland Fire Lieutenant Claims Gender Discrimination in Lawsuit
An Orland Fire Protection District lieutenant claims that she was treated unfairly, with hostility and requests for intervention were ignored, though a fire district attorney said a state human rights commission previously dismissed the same claims.
A lieutenant within the Orland Fire Protection District has named three current, and one former, battalion chiefs in a six-count lawsuit, claiming she was discriminated against and subjected to a “hostile work environment,” according to the suit.
Lt. Terri Simone-Lorenz, who has served with the district since 1994, filed the lawsuit in Oct. 2012. On Tuesday, the suit was amended to include as defendants Orland Fire battalion chiefs Raymond Kay, Nick Cinquepalmi, Michael Schofield and Steve Smith, who retired from the district in 2011.
Within the lawsuit, Simone-Lorenz claims that pornographic materials were left in a district women’s bathroom, derogatory comments were made about women, she was set up to fail repeatedly in drills, was slandered and ostracized by other firefighters and was disciplined when she tried to address her concerns with human resources and supervisors.
Attorney James Roche, who represents the fire district, said Friday that claims within the lawsuit were already presented to the Illinois Department of Human Rights and were dismissed.
“We feel confident that the state court will do the same and we look forward to presenting our side in a court of law,” Roche said. “We feel as such because of the fact that this already has been adjudicated in by the Illinois Department of Human Rights, who dismissed the case for lack of evidence.”
Attorney Dana Kurtz, who is representing Simone-Lorenz, was not available for comment Friday. Kurtz was quoted in the Chicago Tribune saying her clients “numerous” complaints have not been addressed.
“The district has done nothing in response, has done no investigation into any of the conduct or taken any steps to remedy it,” Kurtz said to the Tribune.
Simone-Lorenz was disciplined for two separate occurrences in 2011, one involving use of the district’s email system and other involving an argument with another fire personnel, that resulted in a two-day suspension. The discipline was appealed, arguing that there was no just cause, and she won the appeal in arbitration.
Simone-Lorenz is requesting damages of at least $100,000 in the lawsuit, as well as lost pay, attorney fees and that policies be put in place to prevent future instances of actions described in the claims.
The case is scheduled to be back in court in March 5.
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