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L.A. firefighter wins discrimination lawsuit

Something is terribly wrong in the Los Angeles Fire Department, and thankfully it’s being held accountable.

A jury awarded $6.2 million to a firefighter who said she was harassed by colleagues because she is black and a lesbian, harassment she says included someone mixing urine with her mouthwash.

Brenda Lee’s lawsuit against the Los Angeles Fire Department also claimed her superiors made derogatory comments about her and forced her to perform strenuous exercises without proper safety precautions because of her race and sexual orientation.

…Two other firefighters in the discrimination lawsuit already have won jury awards after their cases were tried separately.

In April, a jury awarded $1.7 million to Lewis Bressler, who claimed he was forced to retire for backing Lee in her claims of discrimination. Firefighter Gary Mellinger, who alleged the department retaliated against him after he helped Lee, settled with the city for $350,000 after a jury found in his favor.

There will a second phase of judgment, this regarding punitive damages against Lee’s former boss, Capt. Christopher Hare. With these huge settlements and cases chipping away at the city’s budget, perhaps L.A. will do more to weed out its bad seeds.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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