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Atty Wants $1 Million Each for SD Firefighters 'Harassed' at Gay Pride

Yesterday I reported that the judge in the case involving firefighters suing the city of San Diego who say they were sexually harassed after being forced to ride in the city's Gay Pride parade said there had been enough testimony to send it to the jury.

FirefighterssandiegoprideThe attorney told the jury on Tuesday that the firefighters should be awarded $1 million each for the harassment they suffered.

"Charles Limandri said firefighters John Ghiotto, Jason Hewitt, Alex Kane and Chad Allison were called names and subjected to cat-calls, hostile language and other sexually explicit acts by scantily clad parade attendees on July 21, 2007. The firefighters, who manned a station in the Hillcrest neighborhood where the parade took place, were ordered to take part when another crew backed out the night before the event...Limandri said the firefighters saw a man on the parade route groping himself and tried to videotape the event, but failed. 'Nobody should see a man doing that in public,' Limandri told the jury. The attorney said the firefighters are men of integrity and honor who felt 'humiliated, demoralized, abandoned and persecuted' by the event. Ghiotto admitted he probably committed 'career suicide' by filing a complaint against the city, Limandri said, adding, 'the city failed them.' Hewitt -- now a captain -- claimed his supervisors retaliated against him for bringing the suit by giving him low marks while he was trying to get his promotion."

Jury deliberations are scheduled to begin today.

Background
Judge: Firefighters Case Ready to Go to Jury [tr]
Firefighter Testifies in San Diego Gay Pride Trial [tr]
Assistant Chief: San Diego Firefighters Required 'Critical-Incident Stress Debriefing' After Gay Pride Parade [tr]
San Diego Firefighter Gay 'Harassment' Trial Begins [tr]
San Diego Firefighters Claim Threats After Gay Pride Complaint [tr]
San Diego Firefighters Sue Dept for Gay Pride Sexual Harassment [tr]

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Comments

  1. So, I get offended when I see people do a lot of things. If I were required to be in a parade, would I be able to sue as a city employee? This suit doesn't make sense. It's not another city employee who engaged in public "indecency," it was a few citizens. The remedy is to call the police and report public indecency. The City of San Diego had nothing to do with it. The City cannot control each person attending a public event. Even if the psychological trauma is real, it's not compensable, from a legal perspective. Turnabout is fair play - what about gay city employees who are forced to participate in straight parades, who are offended by straight male bravado? Should they be allowed to sue? This will open up a pandora's box. The fact is, when you are a city employee, you should be expected to serve everyone, even those who live in a way you find reprehensible. This case could pave the way for every city employee to sue the city if forced to partcipate in public events attended by those with whom they disagree.

    Next up, "Gay City Employee Sues Over Forced Attendance At Rally Attended By Numerous Religious People."

    Posted by: David T | Oct 1, 2008 9:33:23 AM


  2. A rather drunk woman once showed her tits to me in a bar and asked me if I wanted some company. As I recall, I told her I wouldn't be very good company. I don't recall feeling "humiliated, demoralized, abandoned and persecuted". In fact, I can barely recall the tits.

    Posted by: David D. | Oct 1, 2008 10:03:58 AM


  3. Poor widdle fiwermen :(
    If they can't deal with the realities of the human race, what the hell are they doing in a public service job? Embarrassing.

    Posted by: MATT MURPHY | Oct 1, 2008 10:04:45 AM


  4. Part of this is a scam but the other part is valid. The legal theory would come from women employees being forced to attend a meeting at female strip bar. The women are forced to attend with their male colleagues even thought they feel intimidated.

    Look at the case through the lens of sexual harassment. Do pride parades have a reputation for being sexually charged?

    If an employer forces an employee to participate in sexually charged events that run counter to that person's beliefs or sexualizes that person, then the employer could be found guilty of some charge.

    Towleroad Readers: Is anyone a lawyer who would speak to the charges and how they relate to employment law?

    Posted by: noah | Oct 1, 2008 10:44:56 AM


  5. I think if you asked most straight women, they would say that what these men faced was the tiniest fraction of what the ordinary woman endures day in, day out from straight men in general.

    Cat calls, whistling, ogling, comments...

    Have these men ever participated in such activites? I don't know...

    Posted by: Diogenes | Oct 1, 2008 11:13:22 AM


  6. Pussies, one and all! I bet their fellow firefighters are embarrassed as hell to be seen with these wimps.

    Posted by: JerzeeMike | Oct 1, 2008 11:19:41 AM


  7. I bet the firefighters in NYC really feel sorry for these guys. They've been through hell, and sure do deserve that million bucks each.

    Ridiculous. Grow a pair and get over it.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Oct 1, 2008 11:52:28 AM


  8. I can't speak to employment law, which is largely administrative, but this is a laugh a minute. You cannot be sexually harassed if part of your job is dealing with sexually charged situations. For example, a cop has to arrest a couple having sex in a park. His duty is to make the arrest regardless of how he thinks of the situation. He cannot then sue the city for forcing him to make the arrest. If the city can show that public relations are a duty of all firemen then the case should be dismissed. This is operating under the theory of a hostile work environment, but in this case it would involve negligence on the part of the city. That is, the city did not "clean up" the parade route to make sure it was not hostile to the firemen. I believe case law on this sets the standard fairly high. That is, employers have a strong obligation to make sure that work environments are not hostile, but this is only in so far as it does not relate to the employee's duties. Thus, strippers cannot complain about working in a sexually hostile environment! The main problem I think is that str8 men are not a protected class, so claims of a hostile environment would need to meet a higher standard and the city would be under less obligation to avoid negligence. (Sorry for thinking and typing at the same time.)

    Posted by: anon | Oct 1, 2008 12:50:38 PM


  9. I should also point out that you cannot use the "meeting in the strip club" analogy in this case, as an employer cannot use a workplace setting which excludes workers as a way of avoiding negligence. That is, hostile environments are off-limits even if the victim is not there under the theory that their absence hurts their job performance and thus their careers. Thus, the firemen cannot ask to be excluded, rather, under this theory, they would have to ask the fire dept. to not participate in the parade. They are not making that claim.

    Posted by: anon | Oct 1, 2008 1:25:22 PM


  10. As someone mentioned above, now maybe these guys will know what it feels like to be a young woman walking down the street any day in any city in the modern world.

    Lets get real - these aren't a bunch of fragile,sheltered guys. I am sure they have seen and experienced a lot worse. If this is the worst they have had to witness, they really should not be in firefighters. In fact, they shouldn't reside in any major city in the United States.

    Perhaps they should live under a rock in Wyoming where they will be sheltered from such things....

    Posted by: anthony | Oct 1, 2008 11:41:13 PM


  11. I doubt even the facts of this case. The complaint says that they heard, "cat-calls" and "hostile language." "Cat-calls" means a comment of derision. I don't think the comments that were expressed by a few in the crowd were derisive or mean. They were probably, in a way, admiring and affectionate. In other words, there weren't people yelling, "You're a fat bum!" They were probably yelling, "You're hot!" The crowds at a parade are generally festive and playful. Further, the City couldn't know or predict what the crowd would say and do. So, they didn't knowingly put the firefighters in this situation. If the City had hired people to shout comments, that would be a different matter. And what if White firemen were riding in a Martin Luther King Day parade and were subjected to racial comments from a Black crowd, could the White firemen sue? This suit is without merit.

    Posted by: gr8guyca | Oct 3, 2008 1:10:07 PM


  12. Further, how many comments were made during the parade? 100? 50? 10? What percentage of the crowd were making comments that they found offensive? I doubt that there were that many comments. I's not like everyone was chanting, "Hey there, hot stuff! Take it off!" So, how many comments justify a complaint? If only one person had said something offensive, would that trigger a lawsuit?
    The firemen could say that that one comment had caused stress and trauma. This definitely falls into the "sticks and stones" type of damage. Get over it. (By the way, this action probably cost the city a fortune in legal costs.)

    Posted by: gr8guyca | Oct 3, 2008 1:17:39 PM


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