Houston sued after female firefighters allege sex bias

HOUSTON, Texas -- Federal officials have sued the city of Houston after two female firefighters accused their male colleagues of harassing them because of their sex.

The women alleged male co-workers would urinate on the walls and sinks of the women's bathroom and dormitory in the fire station and scrawl vulgar slurs on their belongings. According to a Justice Department statement Wednesday, the men also would shut off the cold water to scald the women as they showered and disconnected the announcement speakers in the women's dorm so they wouldn't respond to emergency calls.

The women said the troubles happened at Houston Fire Department Station 54, near Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport.

A statement from the firefighters union called the allegations unjust.

The City of Houston issued the following statement: "The DOJ lawsuit stems from alleged events, some of which took place 10 years ago, and about which the federal government has long been aware. After a thorough investigation, the City could not substantiate the claims of the plaintiffs when they were made; nor has the City been able to resolve the claims asserted on a mutually agreeable basis. Accordingly, the City will defend itself. The City does not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment."
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