Phoenix city management has released an action plan to deal with a sexual harassment claim coming from the Phoenix Fire Department and to provide supervisors with training to address similar claims in the future.

The action plan comes after a female firefighter with the Phoenix Fire Department filed a claim against the city for gender discrimination in the workplace. According to the claim the woman was allegedly treated differently than her male co-workers for years. She was allegedly told she was not wanted working at the station because she was a female, and was never allowed to drive the fire engine. She also claims she was held to different terms of employment than her male co-workers. There was also an alleged incident where a male co-worker entered her living corridors and took her cell phone.

When the claim was brought before the City Council this month, council members asked city management to further look into the claim. Ed Zuercher, assistant city manager, said the city will review the alleged conduct related to the cell phone and conduct an outside review of the facts of the case. They said they expect to do all this by January.

In addition to looking into this specific case the fire chief is implementing several changes. All middle managers and executives with the department will go through training for managing employee issues and sexual harassment training by the end of this year. There has also been a system set up to make reporting of incidents to human resources more organized and consistent.

“It’s a very detailed plan,” Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio said. “I feel bad for the woman. I’m sure she just wants this to go away. This is her career and her livelihood. The harassment is big on its own, but there are other issues equally as big like breaking in and the altering of documents. There are significant issues and I believe strongly that nothing would have occurred had we not begun asking questions.”

DiCiccio said all supervisors in this case were able to walk away without any reprimand and he hopes this new action plan will help to change the culture and environment within the Phoenix Fire Department.

“Bullying doesn’t just happen on the playground,” DiCiccio wrote in an email. “I applaud City Manager David Cavazos and Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher for taking this serious issue and putting together an action plan… I believe some fire officials still don’t get it. The incredibly slack response even after being confronted by City Council was astounding, and their actions tell me that there is a lot of work to be done in our city.”


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