Firefighter slaps city with lawsuit

April 13, 2010 3:31:41 PM PDT
A lawsuit against the City of Houston was filed Monday night. It alleges that racist and sexist graffiti aimed at two female firefighters last summer was part of a pattern, and the female firefighter who filed the suit wants that alleged pattern of behavior to change. The lawsuit says the pattern of hostility against firefighter Jane Draycott started 10 years ago in 2000 when Draycott worked at Station 46 near Highway 288 and the Loop. Among some of the allegations are that a fill-in firefighter sexually harassed Draycott, "rubbed up against her... asked her to sleep with him, climbed into Draycott's bed while Draycott was in it."

The lawsuit goes on to say that when Draycott later filed a formal complaint, other firefighters began to treat her differently.

Draycott's attorney Joe Ahmad said, "One of the things that we've noticed is that in the fire department is that every time you speak out about misconduct, it's deemed an act of disloyalty."

Draycott also claims the harassment followed her as she moved from station to station.

At Station 92 near Bush Intercontinental Airport in 2007, "the pictures of Draycott's children, including her deceased daughter, were removed from her locker, torn up and placed in the trash," says the lawsuit.

In April 2009 at Station 54, the lawsuit says, "Draycott went to take a shower and was scalded by hot water... the cold water line to the shower had been turned off at the valve."

It was in July 2009 when Draycott and another female firefighter say racist and sexist graffiti was targeted at them at Station 54.

A Houston Fire Department spokesperson released a statement saying, ""Firefighter Draycott has numerous complaints. They can be addressed on their merits in the civil process. This moves us forward."

Draycott's attorney says Draycott isn't seeking any money from the fire department at the moment, just big changes.

HFD says they did invite Draycott back to work, but she declined because of the lawsuit. The city has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit.

So far no one has been charged in the graffiti investigation. The mayor's Office of Inspector General and even the FBI have never identified any suspects. Last week, the president of the firefighters union called for all the firefighters involved to be publicly exonerated.


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