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Four D.C. firefighters have filed a $10 million race and gender bias lawsuit against the city government.
Black female firefighters Jadonna Sanders, Shalonda Smith, Takeva Thomas, and Bolatito Ajose said in the lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that they were discriminated against based on their race and gender. They allege denial of fair opportunities in pay and promotions and dealt with harsher discipline than their white co-workers.
“These four women have been long-standing, successful firefighters, but their tenure at D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services has been fraught with disparate treatment…there’s a systemic, historic ignoring of complaints of Black women at DC FEMS,” said attorney Pam Keith, WTOP reported. “They complain about being harassed or bullied, they get ignored; they complain about disparate or unfair treatment, they get ignored.”
The women’s time of service at the agency ranged from 10 to 21 years.
The lawsuit seeks $2.5 million each in compensatory damages.
Fire Chief John Donnelly had no comment on the lawsuit but said the matter will be investigated and that the department “has a long history and a recent history of … hiring women, promoting women,” WTOP reported.