4 DCFEMS firefighters file $10M discrimination lawsuit

The paramedics and current or recent members of the fire prevention division said bias against Black women has affected their pay and opportunities


By Leila Merrill

WASHINGTON — Four firefighters with the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department filed a $10 million lawsuit Monday, WTOP reported.

Firefighters Jadonna Sanders, Shalonda Smith, Takeva Thomas and Bolatito Ajose, who are Black women, said that they have experienced racial and gender discrimination affecting their pay, promotions, opportunities and training, according to Fox5DC. They also said they have faced harsher discipline than their white co-workers.

DCFEMS Firefighters Jadonna Sanders, Shalonda Smith, Takeva Thomas and Bolatito Ajose, who are Black women, said that they have experienced racial and gender discrimination.
DCFEMS Firefighters Jadonna Sanders, Shalonda Smith, Takeva Thomas and Bolatito Ajose, who are Black women, said that they have experienced racial and gender discrimination. (Photo/D.C. Fire and EMS)

“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,” said their attorney, Pam Keith.

The plaintiffs, who are certified paramedics and current or recent members of the department’s fire prevention division, said that they have been denied premium pay, which other paramedics received.

The lawsuit is seeking $2.5 million each in damages.

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