The sexual harassment allegations against the Phoenix Fire Department are appalling. No woman should have to go through the harassment inflicted on this Phoenix Fire Department employee, who recently sued the city over years of such treatment.
By now you’ve heard the story of the woman who sued the city alleging that for years she was subject not only to harassment, but was denied opportunities for advancement. There are also allegations of breaking and entering her private room by a male colleague and taking and searching through her cell phone.
Imagine if you went to work dedicated each day for five years and had people around you ridicule you every day. Imagine if you made repeated complaints and your superiors refused to take action. Imagine if you refused the relationship advances of a man at work and he broke into your living quarters to take your personal belongings, and once again your superiors did nothing. Imagine going to work each day for five years in a climate allowing this to continue, and eventually your superiors remove you involuntarily from your place of work. Now visualize this happening at the Phoenix Fire Department, and nobody coming to your assistance.
Bullying doesn’t just happen on the playground.
I applaud City Manager David Cavazos and Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher for taking this serious issue and putting together an action plan, which you can see below.
This is important to the city and to me. In the 1990s, I helped Phoenix lead the charge protecting victims of domestic violence. Also, as the father of two small girls and a community leader, I want the right message sent to everyone that this behavior will not be tolerated.
We have a responsibility to make sure we have the right policies, procedures, training and management oversight to avoid more of these situations.
Here is the city of Phoenix action plan:
• Reviewing allegations of criminal conduct by fire (department) employees. Cmdr. Sandra Renteria will head the investigation and ask counterparts in the Department of Public Safety to investigate allegation of a property crime.
• Conducting an outside review of the facts in the case and the response from (fire department). Phoenix will hire an outside firm or person (subject to City Council approval) who will assess the fire department’s personnel practices in the case.
• All fire (department) middle managers and executives must take a class on sexual harassment and ADA by Equal Opportunity, Human Resources and Law by the end of the year.
• Deputy and battalion chiefs will share with their reports the information from the training by January, 2013.
• Fire management will schedule monthly meetings with Human Resources to review recent disciplinary actions.
• The fire chief has reorganized reporting on HR issues internally so that regular trend analysis is given to management regularly and improve guidance for battalion chiefs and supervisors as issues arise.
• All performances plans for fire (department) managers will have indicators measuring training class attendance.
Lastly, I believe some fire (department) 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.
Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents District 6, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 262-7491.