Daily Labor Report® is the objective resource the nation’s foremost labor and employment professionals read and rely on, providing reliable, analytical coverage of top labor and employment...
Aug. 24 — A lesbian paramedic claims the Providence Fire Department illegally demoted her because she testified on behalf of a lesbian firefighter who successfully sued the Rhode Island city for sex discrimination ( Masse v. City of Providence , D.R.I., No. 1:16-cv-00472, complaint filed 8/24/16 ).
Danielle Masse's complaint said the city “escalated” the “false and retaliatory” disciplinary charges every time she testified or was going to testify in former Providence firefighter Lori Franchina’s case against the city. Franchina’s lawsuit resulted in an $806,000 verdict in her favor.
For example, the department notified Masse, a city employee since 2001, that it was bringing charges against her less than a week after she was disclosed as a witness in Franchina’s case, Masse alleges. Similarly, she was served with notice of her disciplinary hearing just days before she was due to be deposed in Franchina’s lawsuit, Masse says.
The demotion from the rank of captain will cost Masse “hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of her career,” according to her complaint, which was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island Aug. 24.
The bogus disciplinary charges stem from Masse’s handling of a single-car accident in December 2014, the complaint says.
According to Masse, she followed protocol in ordering that the driver, who possessed several bags of heroin and appeared to be under the drug’s influence at the time, be taken to the hospital rather than immediately arrested.
A state trooper who was also on the scene disagreed and complained about her handling of the situation. His complaint “went nowhere,” until the city learned that she was going to be a witness in Franchina’s case, Masse says.
Masse’s complaint also includes claims for gender discrimination, sexual orientation bias and “gender plus sexual orientation” discrimination under federal and state law.
Among other things, she claims her demotion was “far more severe and drastic” than the discipline meted out to at least 25 male employees for similar alleged infractions.
She cites the department’s “well-established” pattern of discriminating against women and lesbian employees. That includes an acknowledged practice of favoring female employees who have sex with male employees, she says.
Male firefighters routinely drink on the job and maintain a “liquor locker” for that purpose, Masse also alleges. Moreover, a male captain who made sexual advances toward a female lieutenant while drunk on the job—including “following her into the ladies room”—was allowed to retire rather than face discipline for his actions, according to Masse.
The news that she was going to be a witness for Franchina caused Acting Chief Scott Mello to say, “We need to get to Masse. We have to nail Masse on this thing,” Masse asserts. Mello then served as judge at her disciplinary hearing just six weeks after sitting in on her deposition in Franchina’s case, she says.
The city of Providence told Bloomberg BNA that it had not been served with Masse's complaint. It declined further comment through a spokesperson Aug. 24.
KJC Law Firm LLC and Law Office of Kevin P. Braga represent Masse. No attorney has yet filed an appearance for the city.
To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at email@example.com
Text of the complaint is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Masse_v_City_of_Providence_Docket_No_116cv00472_DRI_Aug_24_2016_C.
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)