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City of L.A. Under Fire: Female Firefighters Face Workplace Hostility

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2021 | Firm News

Allegations of Ongoing Harassment and Unequal Opportunities
Allegations of a hostile work environment against the City of L.A., and particularly the L.A. Fire Department, continue to pile up despite purported efforts by Mayor Eric Garcetti over the past eight years to make advances in the treatment of and opportunities for women within the profession.

Just recently, Rebecca Ninburg, a sixyear veteran of the Board of Fire Commissioners, emphasized the agency’s “frat house culture” and the mayor’s turning a blind eye to the situation. Ninburg supported her statements with stories illustrating instances of sexual harassment, lack of fair promotional opportunities for women, and other female mistreatment that is continuously met with lackluster responses by the mayor and his colleagues.

L.A. firefighter Katie Becker’s 2019 report of male coworkers exposing themselves to their female counterparts, was amongst the shared narratives; although Becker and other female coworkers had met with the mayor, progress for their plight still seemed slow.

The Mayor’s Response
Ninburg is the second of the Mayor’s fire commissioners, after Andrew Glazier, to speak up about the mayor’s lack of support in finding an effective and prompt response to such allegations.

Unfortunately, the complaints seem to have fallen to deaf ears. The mayor replaced Glazier with Corinne Babcock and the mayor’s chief of staff asked Ninburg to move to another commission. Ninburg has refused this request.

A Failed Attempt to Address the Issue
In 2016, following a survey exposing “high levels of sexual harassment” within the department, the commission began examining the department’s culture. However, the study was shortlived when its funding evaporated and several women, including Ninburg, were removed from the working group.

According to Ninburg, when she informed Deputy Mayor Jeff Gorell that the funding would not be restored with the help of a particular councilwoman unless women were spearheading the initiative, Ninburg was told that the mayor’s administration “does not care” about that councilwoman.

Mixed Opinions
There are still ardent supporters of Mayor Garcetti’s contribution to women’s rights within the department. Some advocates of Garcetti cite the following data: women compose 3.5% of the sworn personnel, which is a relative improvement over the 2.9% when the mayor took office in 2013. There are even female firefighters, who feel as though women have been given “every avenue to succeed” and “…have never
been treated unfairly.”

Reach Out to Our Firm To Take on Your Claims of Hostile Workplace and Sexual Harassment
If you believe you are facing a hostile work environment or sexual harassment in the workplace, contact our dedicated and experienced discrimination lawyers at Makarem & Associates at 310.312.0299 or at [email protected]. You will not be disappointed!