Kan. firefighter claims sexual harassment in lawsuit

Elizabeth Hinton was the city’s only female firefighter after she was hired in 2006, and said the harassment got worse after she became pregnant


By Tony Rizzo
The Kansas City Star

OLATHE, Kan. — A female Olathe firefighter alleges in a federal lawsuit that she has been the victim of years of sexual harassment and discrimination.

For many years, Elizabeth Hinton was the city’s only female firefighter after she was hired in 2006, and the harassment got worse after she became pregnant, according to the suit against the city of Olathe filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.

One senior department officer allegedly told her, “Well say goodbye to that body. That’s why I don’t date young girls like you. You’re too fertile.”

After she had twins and returned to work, the suit alleges that male firefighters made rude comments about her breasts, including making “mooing” sounds outside the door while she pumped breast milk.

The suit also contends that Hinton was denied the same opportunities to participate in professional development programs as her male counterparts, despite “excellent performance evaluations.”

When she complained or reported sexual harassment to her supervisor, Hinton was allegedly told “they didn’t really mean it” and to let it go.

Last May, Hinton filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and as a result, she alleges that she was retaliated against, including being given an unfavorable review for the first time.

She seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages.

A spokeswoman said that the city “takes matters like this seriously.”

“However, it would not be fair to the employee or the taxpayers to provide comment on a pending legal issue and a personnel matter,” the spokeswoman said in a written statement.

Copyright 2017 The Kansas City Star

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