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Firefighter gets $11 million for gender discrimination, retaliation

Just south of Chicago sits Country Club Hills, a modest suburb of about 16,000 residents. A jury there recently awarded a firefighter more than $11 million in a gender discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit.

The firefighter and her employment law attorney successfully argued that she had been retaliated against for reporting workplace misbehavior and passed over for promotion. She also alleged that co-workers frequently viewed pornography at the fire station.

The trial went on for two weeks, but the jury came to its decision on all three of her claims — gender discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation — in just a couple of hours of deliberation. According to a recent news article, she was awarded $11,213,000.

The award includes $8 million for emotional harm and mental suffering, as well as $2 million for compensatory damages and $1,085,000 for lost future earnings. She is also to receive $78,000 for time, earnings and salary lost and $50,000 for expenses related to counseling.

“We hope that this verdict will encourage women in the fire service to stand up and speak out against discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation and to break through the fire wall that exists in this and many other departments,” the firefighter’s attorney said.

The judge instructed the jury that it could draw negative conclusions from the city’s digital evidence destruction. The judge also awarded the plaintiff attorney fees and reimbursement for the cost of hiring a forensic expert.

A trial on “equitable relief” is scheduled to begin in a few days to determine compensation for the loss of her pension, as well as attorney fees. The news article stated those costs are estimated at from $3 to $4 million.

Those who suffer discrimination, harassment and retaliation can find justice with the help of an employment law attorney devoted to protecting rights and careers.

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