SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Two former firefighters have sued Sioux
Falls Fire Rescue and the city of Sioux Falls claiming harassment
and discrimination.
Nicole Havel and Madeline Borah said in their lawsuit that they
were ridiculed, subjected to sexually demeaning e-mails and
pictures, and criticized for being weak while they worked for the
department.
Borah was hired as a firefighter in September in 1997 and quit
in 2002. Havel was hired in October of 1998 and quit in 2003.
In their lawsuit, the Borah and Havel outlined several
complaints.
Havel said she wasn't given the same work opportunities as the
men and was forced to cut her hair to the same length as male
co-workers. She said she was humiliated by having to have short
hair and said the requirement had nothing to do with job
performance. The policy was changed in 2002.
She also said female pornography was displayed at various fire
stations. When she and other women firefighters complained about
it, Havel said she was told it was a fire department tradition.
Borah said when she was hired she wasn't given a locker and
unlike male employees had to keep her belongings in a duffel bag.
She also said she was not given proper equipment and had to use
gear from a previous job with a volunteer fire department.
Thomas Clayton, the lawyer for the women, said the problems have
been going on a long time.
"It's disconcerting that (in) this day and age, when women can
fight on battlefields, that the Sioux Falls Fire Department felt
women were incapable of being firefighters," Clayton said in a
statement.
Sioux Falls Fire Donn Hill said he was aware lawsuit but
referred reporters' questions to the city attorney.
An official in the city attorney's office said the office would
not comment on a pending case.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)