Female DC Firefighters File Suit Alleging Discrimination

Aug. 2, 2022
The four African-American women claim they have been overlooked for promotions and denied pay incentives.

Four veteran female firefighters have filed a lawsuit against DC Fire and EMS claiming racial and gender discrimination.

In the suit, Firefighters Jadonna Sanders, Shalonda Smith, Takeva Thomas and Bolatito Ajose — four African American women — report they have faced discrimination in pay and promotions, WTOP reported.

“These four women have been long-standing, successful firefighters, but their tenure at DC Fire and Emergency (Medical) Services has been fraught with disparate treatment … there’s a systemic, historic ignoring of complaints of Black women at DC FEMS. They complain about being harassed or bullied, they get ignored; they complain about disparate or unfair treatment, they get ignored,” their attorney Pam Keith told reporters.

The suit, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks $2.5M each.

The women, some of whom are certified paramedics, claim they have been denied premium pay, which other medics received. 

Fire Chief John Donnelly said he couldn’t comment on a pending lawsuit, but he defended the department’s practices.

“The department has a long history and a recent history of … hiring women, promoting women,” Donnelly told WTOP. “Those things (the women’s allegations) seem foreign to me, but we’ll look into them.”

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