L.A. Fire Department Pays Firefighter Nearly $500,000 After Sex Abuse Jokes

LA fire department Anthony AlmeidaWhen Anthony Almeida's fellow firefighters learned that he had been sexually abused by a priest as a child, some apparently thought that was hilarious. It certainly proved great fodder for lewd jokes. But there's little to laugh at now -- as the Los Angeles City Fire Department recently agreed to pay Almeida nearly $500,000 in damages, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Almeida was a firefighter/engineer with the department for 26 years. He claims that his co-workers began tormenting him in 2006, when they discovered that he had filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Church because of the sexual abuse he had suffered as a child. He says that he reported the harassment to managers, but nothing was done. So in 2007, he filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging sex and religious discrimination.

He also hired a private attorney, Vince Finaldi, who has participated in lawsuits that have won over $1 billion for victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests.

The EEOC investigated, and found that there was reasonable cause that the department had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: It was likely that Almeida was not only harassed, but the department also appeared to have disciplined him in retaliation for his involvement in another EEOC lawsuit.

In the settlement, the department agreed to award Almeida $494,150 in damages and provide anti-harassment training to the 3,500 uniformed staff in L.A., impacting all 103 fire stations in the city.

"Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers have seen many examples of Los Angeles-area governmental agencies that have struggled with employees and supervisors who just don't understand how to comply with sexual harassment laws," wrote Orange County lawyer Okorie Okorocha after the case was settled. Some people just don't get, he claims, that "making lewd comments" is not only wrong, "but also unlawful."



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adamyaz

They have to put a stop to firefighters harassing each other and goofing on each other. They just have to shut down every firehouse in the US to avoid the lawsuits.

March 20 2012 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DJR

Your tax money just being payed away to those lawyers and there poor mistreated clients. The fier guys don't pay anything!

March 20 2012 at 1:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to DJR's comment
Happypoolprune

The insurance company will pay the tab - but I do think the people involved should have to reimburse the settlement - Maybe next time the supervisors, etc - will take the claims seriously and will not discipline the victim for going to the proper people to complain.

March 20 2012 at 4:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
obhoney

good thing he was only drowning in his sorrows and not in the actual ocean as he would have been left to his own demise like the poor guy in northern california who was "allowed" to take his own life while a crew of firefighters watched from the shore with his pleeding mother. As a matter of coinsidents , two of the firefighters made a combined $500,000 the year before, so you can see that 1/2 million is "chump" change to these guys...dig deep California , Moonbeam and the unions are coming for your dough !!

March 20 2012 at 12:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert

WOW! Good for him. I thought firefighters are a "brotherhood" . Seems like the guys he was stationed with were a bucnh of DICKS!!!

March 20 2012 at 12:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
farkleberry71606

"Some people just don't get, he claims, that "making lewd comments" is not only wrong, "but also unlawful."
When will people GROW UP? Being molested is no joke. Not only was this man molested as a youngster, but now his coworkers inflict further pain. I agree that the parties in question should be penalized; however, the article also says that he reported the harrassment to management and nothing was done.

March 19 2012 at 11:55 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Steve

The taxpayers have been ripped off again. Not that Almeida didn't deserve the money, but that in typical governmental fashion, the people responsible for it (namely the departments supervisors and administrators) are not held financially accountable. In the private sector, these people would have been fired first, then possibly sued for financial damages caused; in the government, they all simple claim they didn't know anything, etc., then they keep their jobs and the taxpayers get to pick up the bill (again). Why can't GOVERNMENT employees start facing the same accountability that people in the private sector do? The taxpayers in that city should file a lawsuit of their own (class action) to recover as much of the costs of this negligence from the perpetrators as well as the administrators who looked the other way. After a while people would start to realize they ARE responsible and (hopefully) start doing the right thing to begin with, which would prevent these expensive settlements in the first place and save the taxpayers a lot of money.

March 19 2012 at 11:09 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
dennisiddm

1st of all how did his situation get pubic in the 1st place? Those are Confidential Cases..
2ndly- You get Counseling and are told not to talk to others about it..espeically Non Family members.
3rd- Did someong in his Dept- Such as the Cheif Release it? And how did he know about it?
4th if he told his fellow workers? Then 1/2 the blame is on him for trusting these guys..

I mean..would you go telling your fellow workers ?
I surea as heck wouldn't.. be to embarrassing

March 19 2012 at 10:26 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
l2d3b

Geez, some bullies never grow up.

March 19 2012 at 10:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
boxcart007

Sorry guys, but it was a out of Court settlement, not a jury trial which could have cost millions instead, and yes they should have cleaned out the pensions of all those involved before the City kicked in they're part...
Whats left out is was there any discipline meeted out against all those involved, I bet not........

March 19 2012 at 8:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ragtopdaz

Doesn't surprise me one bit. L. A. Stands for lawsuits in abundance

March 19 2012 at 7:45 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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