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5 female EMTs settle sex discrimination suit with FDNY

Five women have said for several years that the New York City Fire Department has a glass ceiling for women. The five Emergency Medical Service officers claim that promotional opportunities for women within the department are impeded due to discriminatory reasons. The women have been pursuing a sex discrimination lawsuit against the city, arguing that a pattern of discrimination exists in the department.

The gender bias lawsuit reportedly was originally filed in 2006. The five veteran EMS officers say that they were passed over for promotions on more than one occasion, and each time a less qualified male was given the promotion.

In addition, the women say that they suffered repercussions if they complained about the discriminatory practices. The women announced Friday that the gender bias lawsuit with the city has settled for a seven figure sum.

Each of the veteran EMS officers will retire this year as a part of the settlement agreement, according to NBC News. The money involved in the deal includes compensatory damages and back pay. But the agreement also requires the fire department to modify practices related to employment, including how promotional opportunities are advertised.

The department says that the allegations underlying the lawsuit occurred years ago. The FDNY says that women comprise roughly 26 percent of the current EMS workforce and hold 24 percent of high ranking positions that involve discretionary appointments in the department. 

Nonetheless, two other gender bias lawsuits remain pending and are not included in Friday’s settlement. Workplace discrimination issues can arise in any type of job or profession.

Employment discrimination laws in New York, and at the federal level, provide workers with important safeguards, which are primarily aimed at eliminating discriminatory practices in the workplace. However, when the laws do not work to eliminate job biases, they also provide procedures for people who have suffered job discrimination to seek redress through legal means.

Source: NBC News, “NYC Settles Fire Department Gender Lawsuit for $1M," Bethan McKernan, June 14, 2013

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