In 1995, founding partner Barbara Hadsell represented four female firefighters in a groundbreaking gender discrimination and sexual harassment case, Diane Cameron v. City of Los Angeles, against the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD). On Tuesday, January 18, 2022, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti named Deputy Fire Chief Kristin Crowley to be the LAFD’s first female leader.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Chief Crowley will be “the first woman to lead the LAFD in its 136-year history.” In addition to being the first female leader of the LAFD, Chief Crowley was the department’s first female fire marshal and the second woman to earn the rank of chief deputy.
She has plans to address complaints of ongoing harassment, discrimination, and hazing of female firefighters at the department and promised “accountability” on Tuesday.
“The intention here and now is to ensure that all of our members, both women and men, come to work and feel safe and feel heard,” she said in her statement.
A Symbol of Progress
As representatives of firefighters who suffered gender discrimination and sexual harassment years ago, our team at Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai, LLP cannot help but see Chief Crowley’s appointment as a symbol of how far we have come together. When 11 of the 28 women who formed part of the June 1993 LAFD Academy training class graduated to become full-fledged fire fighters, an incensed male fire Captain dismantled the sign proclaiming “Through these doors pass the greatest firefighters in the world” and burned it in protest. Such near antediluvian discriminatory and hostile conduct by male training and command staff and peer fire fighters was detailed in a lawsuit filed by Hadsell & Stormer over twenty-five years ago on behalf of six women who entered the Academy in hopes of becoming part of the LAFD’s honored tradition. However, since persons as high up as an LAFD Chief at the time openly proclaimed that though they “had the hearts of eagles, they had the bodies of pigeons”, the arbitrary, unfair and capricious barriers set for women firefighter candidates were extraordinarily difficult to overcome. How glorious then it is for a female to be nominated as the Department’s Fire Chief. Congratulations to Kirsten Crowley and to all the women who have gone before her. We are exceptionally proud of the work we have done and its role in the movement for women. We applaud Mayor Garcetti for selecting Chief Crowley as the leader of the LAFD, and we look forward to seeing what she does with the Department.
Helping Female Firefighters
Helping female firefighters has been one of Mayor Garcetti’s priorities since he took office in 2013. He promised to improve working conditions for female and nonwhite firefighters and add more female firefighters to the LAFD. Although appointing Chief Crowley is a step in the right direction, Garcetti has failed to increase the percentage of female LAFD firefighters. The City failed to meet Garcetti’s modest goal that 5% of LAFD’s firefighters be female by 2020. As of January 5, 2021, the LAFD only had 117 female firefighters or 3.5% of LAFD firefighters. There have been some successes, however, as women account for more than 10% of the Department’s leadership positions. Change at the Department has been slow in much part due to the fact that the LAFD has historically failed to protect female firefighters who speak out about discrimination and harassment at the department.
Helping Women and Other Minorities
Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai LLP is always available to help women and other minorities subjected to discrimination and harassment at work. Our experienced attorneys are ready to fight for you – we have tried more than 100 cases before judges and juries in state and federal courts and recovered over one billion dollars for our clients.
Ready to get started? Call us at (626) 775-7870 or contact us online to learn how we can help you, today.