Case 51: Los Angeles Fire Department Captain WINS $3.75 Million in Reverse Discrimination Lawsuit!

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Web Posted June 13, 2007

SUMMARY:   In May 2006 Los Angeles Fire Dept. Captain Frank Lima filed a reverse discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the LA Fire Department.

          On Thursday June 7, 2007 a Los Angeles Jury awarded Capt. Frank Lima $3.75 million dollars.

          It all started in June 2004 when Capt. Lima supervised the training of a female recruit, Ms. Melissa B. Kelley. Applying the same standards as he would to male recruits, Capt. Lima was forced to fail Ms. Kelley for her performance on a training exercise involving a 35-foot ladder.

          After failing Ms. Kelley, Capt. Lima was transferred from the station where he was working (an adverse job action). He was also denied a promotion as a direct result of failing the female recruit (another adverse job action).

          At a Board of Rights Hearing in May 2005 he was told that he should treat women trainees more leniently than men because it was difficult to recruit and retain female firefighters.

          Below are news accounts of Capt. Frank Lima's reverse discrimination case.

LAFD Captain Wins $3.75 Million in Retaliation, Discrimination Case Excerpt from KNBC News story 06-07-07
POSTED: 5:27 pm PDT June 7, 2007 -- A jury Thursday awarded $3.75 million to a Los Angeles Fire Department captain who alleged he was retaliated against for refusing to give preferential treatment to a female firefighter recruit.

          A Los Angeles Superior Court jury of seven men and five women deliberated about 1 1/2 days before finding in favor of LAFD Capt. Frank Lima, who filed his lawsuit in May 2006.

          "We are disappointed with the verdict and are considering our options," said Jonathan Diamond, a spokesman for the City Attorney's Office. Click here to find out more!

          Lima claimed he was discriminated and retaliated against because he was a male and applied the same standards in training a female recruit that he would have done had she been a man.

          Lima's duties included training firefighters in emergency tactics and conducting firefighting drills, according to his court papers. In June 2004, he supervised training for Melissa B. Kelley as she tried and failed to perform a training exercise involving a 35-foot ladder, according to his lawsuit.

          Kelley later claimed she was injured and that Lima had humiliated her, even though she never told him on the day of the training that she was hurt, Lima's court papers state.

          Lima claims he was transferred from the station where he was working. He said he also was told by a supervisor during a May 2005 Board of Rights hearing regarding the Kelley incident to treat women differently and in a disparate manner because it was difficult to recruit and retain female firefighters.

          The board found that Lima did not harass Kelley because of her gender, but reprimanded him for not taking steps to ensure her safety, according to his court papers, which state that the board "came to this erroneous decision despite the fact the drill was proper and Lima had no knowledge of Kelley's prior injury."

          Lima's attorney, Gregory W. Smith, said Lima also was denied a prestigious promotion to a higher rank of captain.

          Smith said his client is anxious to return to the Pacific Palisades fire station where he is assigned.

          "He just wants to go back to work and serve the citizens of Los Angeles," Smith said. "Now he won't have to worry about being retaliated against."

-- Excerpted from KNBC News Story 06-07-07

Firefighters Union Statement Excerpt from mayorsam2.blogspot.com 06-10-07
LOS ANGELES, Calif., June 8, 2007 – The United Firefighters of Los Angeles City (UFLAC) Local 112 chooses not to comment specifically about the law suit and subsequent $3.75 million dollar jury award to Captain Frank Lima.

          Steve Tufts, president of the firefighters union, said, 'My hope is that this jury decision will initiate even more positive changes in the way our members are treated by those charged with leading them. UFLAC is committed to protecting the dignity and respect of the 3500 members we represent who dedicate themselves to protecting L.A. Captain Lima is a sitting Director and valued member of the UFLAC Executive Board. A family oriented man who loves doing his job and will continue to work hard for the City, I know that Frank must be relieved that this is over.'

          UFLAC is the labor representation organization of the proud men and women that serve as Firefighters and emergency medical personnel protecting the City of Los Angeles. The more than 3,500 members of the Los Angeles Fire Department rely on UFLAC to focus on the wellbeing of those that protect the lives of others. UFLAC takes great pride in providing leadership and influence on issues that involve public safety and worker welfare.

-- Excerpted from mayorsam2.blogspot.com

END Case 51:
Los Angeles Fire Department Captain WINS $3.75 Million in Reverse Discrimination Lawsuit!

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*  We use the term reverse discrimination reluctantly and only because it is so widely understood.  In our opinion there really is only one kind of discrimination.