$70,000 sexual harassment lawsuit prompts big changes at Phoenix Fire Department

PHOENIX - There's a big shake up at the Phoenix Fire Department as Phoenix city leaders rush to correct what one councilman calls a five-year cover-up of a sexual harassment case.

The changes are coming after a female firefighter leveled a $70,000 lawsuit against the city.

The lawsuit alleges the employee suffered years of sexual harassment including being called derogatory names and being passed up for promotions.

"I'm shocked by it! And I'm even more shocked by the response of the fire department that they didn't think it was any big deal," said District 6 Phoenix City Council member Sal DiCiccio.

In a memo to City Manager David Cavazos, Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher listed out immediate changes to the Phoenix Fire Department.

Those changes include a sexual harassment course for fire department managers and middle managers.

The memo also calls for a Department of Public Safety investigation into allegations that documents were altered in the case, along with breaking and entering charges.

"There are other allegations dealing with this woman's private living space being violated and broken into," said DiCiccio.

DiCiccio said another fire department employee took the victim's phone to see who she was seeing.

The councilman accused the fire department of having a "boy's club" mentality.

"The fire department is treating some of these fire houses as a fraternity, and people have got to feel safe. Women have to feel safe," said DiCiccio.

DiCiccio said the changes are a good start, but he would also like to see those involved be held accountable.

"There has to be penalties, you just can't talk about it," said DiCiccio.

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