Federal judge dismisses Philly firefighter sexual discrimination claim, holds two other charges

By Jim Boyle | Jul 10, 2014

A sexual discrimination charge leveled against the Philadelphia Fire Department by a

female firefighter has been thrown out by a U.S. district judge, leaving one charge of creating a hostile work environment and one charge of retaliation in tact for the litigation.

U.S. District Judge Luis Restrepo says that the plaintiff, Lisa Jeter, did not meet the threshold of evidence proving that the alleged sexual discrimination from her senior officers resulted in adverse employment action.

Jeter claimed that she experienced two adverse employment actions because of her gender, a charge of conduct unbecoming an officer and the failure by her superiors to remove her from the alleged hostile work environment itself.

Restrepo wrote that the fire department offered to dismiss the conduct charge and that the characterization of the failure to remove Jeter from the environment as an adverse action does not have any support in case law.

According to the original complaint filed in November 2012, Jeter had been subjected to years of harassment while stationed at Engine 34 of the Philadelphia Fire Department. The allegations include being called a "b****" and "a little girl" by another firefighter. The same firefighter, Anthony Hill, also was alleged to have thrown a piece of equipment at Jeter and refused to give her water during a fire, the suit stated.

The evidence for these incidents was strong enough to compel Restrepo to deny the defendants' motion for summary judgment. He also noted the lack of disciplinary actions against Hill for his conduct, which fostered the hostile work environment. Hill's continued harassment also gave the court enough leeway to deny the motion to dismiss the retaliatory charge against the city.

The judge has ordered a settlement conference for Aug. 5, where the parties will meet and give a status update on discovery and any further settlement discussions.


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