EMS World

NOV 2018

EMS World Magazine is the most authoritative source in the world for clinical and educational material designed to improve the delivery of prehospital emergency medical care.

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Page 22 of 51

22 NOVEMBER 2018 | EMSWORLD.com COVER REPORT: SEXUAL HARASSMENT ing started. Her gloves, hoods, and radio vanished (2007); her mask was sabo- taged (two weeks after 9/11). She found what appeared to be semen on her bed (2012). Clothes continued to be stolen and destroyed. Word of the harassment rose all the way to Mayor Don McIlroy, and the department issued a warning against equipment tampering, but nothing sub- stantively changed. By 2015 Circleville had a lieutenant position open. Chief Marc Zingarelli told Morningstar not to bother testing, as she wouldn't pass, and the position was going to someone else. Then Zingarelli called her a "bitch" in front of test administrators. At the same time there were sexual advances from a city employee, includ- ing instances of forced physical contact. Morningstar ultimately complained about that, to no avail, and in 2015 that employee "grabbed her by the waist and put his head into her chest." 15 A major meeting ensued; Zingarelli called her a "bitch" again, and Morningstar was put on administrative leave while the city employee remained on the job. The next Monday Morningstar drafted a letter to the chief and mayor expressing her desire to file a formal complaint and not work with that individual any longer, and saying she was taking a few days off. Her pursuer was then fired, but not without a memo "emphasizing the extra workload his departure would cause." 15 The chief's verbal abuse continued: bitch, whore, slut, cunt. Nearing the end of her rope, Morningstar complained to the city, which investigated but found no vio- lation of policy. Zingarelli was reinstated, and more incidents occurred: missing keys, someone breaking into her locker, cold shoulders from some colleagues (though support from others). When she finally sued in December 2015, Morningstar went on paid adminis- trative leave. When that expired, believing the problems hadn't been resolved, she didn't return to work and was fired. Her suit alleged gender discrimination, inflic- tion of emotional distress, retaliation, viola- tions of the Equal Pay Act and Ohio Public Policy Tort, a hostile work environment, and sexual harassment. Those claims were ultimately narrowed, but the eventual trial lasted just a week before the jur y awarded Morningstar $3.25 million in compensatory damages, plus $100,001 in punitive damages against Zingarelli. An appeal is still possible, says attorney Brian Duncan, who represented Morningstar for the Cincinnati-based law firm BKD, LLC. "My reaction as a whole is just that I'm incredibly humbled," says Morningstar. "I feel vindicated. I feel I'm not standing alone anymore. But while I don't want to take away from the verdict, you can't help but to feel, after a situation like this, that you're kind of just being paid to go away. That's hard to swallow. You kind of wish it didn't end there." Zingarelli s tepped dow n, taking a month's paid vacation in September before retiring with full honors and benefits Octo- ber 1. 16 An Employer's Responsibility States may have their own laws, but sexual harassment is also a federal matter, under the pur view of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It was with the EEOC that the ACLU filed charges against Fairfax Fire and Rescue in May. That's a required precursor to a federal lawsuit. Harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other sexualized badgering. However, it doesn't have to be strictly sex- ual—it can include offensive remarks about a person's sex, e.g., women in general. Both men and women can commit harassment and be its victims. Sexual harassment claims fall into two types: quid pro quo, or "this for that," and hostile work environment. The former involves providing or denying some benefit based on a response to sexual advances; it can only be perpetrated by someone in authority. The latter occurs when speech or behavior is "so severe and per vasive that it creates an intimidating or demean- ing environment…that negatively affects a person's job performance." 17 Anyone, even nonemployees, can contribute to a hostile work environment. An employer is liable if harassment cul- minates in a tangible employment action (firing, demotion, etc.) and may be even if Harassers often don't understand their behavior is a problem or the impact it can have.

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