January 31, 2012 — The Los Angeles City Fire Department has agreed to pay one of its employees, Anthony Alameida, $494,150 to settle a Sexual and Religious Harassment case. The Fire Department also agreed to implement widespread anti-harassment training to all fire station chiefs and staff in the every fire station in Los Angeles.
Anthony Alameida was an engineer / firefighter employed by the Los Angles City Fire Department since 1986. In a complaint against the Fire Department, Alameida alleged that he suffered sexual and religious harassment that began in 2006, after he filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Church over sexual abuse he suffered from a priest. After one of his coworkers learned that he had filed the lawsuit, several coworkers began mocking him. They used explicit, derogatory religious and sexual terms. When Alameida complained to his superiors, they failed to adequately address or halt the abuse.
Alameida complained to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2007, which determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that Alameida’s coworkers and superiors had violated the law. Sexual harassment and religious harassment are all violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The investigation also found that Alameida had suffered retaliatory discipline for participating in another EEOC investigation.
By agreeing to settle the case administratively, the Los Angeles City Fire Department can avoid future litigation. The Fire Department will be conducting anti-harassment training in all of its fire stations in Los Angeles. There are 103 neighborhood fire stations in Los Angeles, which employs over 3,500 uniformed personnel.
“By working with the EEOC this way, the Department is sending a message that no further civil rights abuses will be tolerated — a key responsibility of all employers,” said Olophius Perry, district director for the EEOC’s Los Angeles district office, in a statement.
Alameida had filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Archdiocese. In 2007, the Archdiocese agreed to settle a claim brought by 508 victims of abuse. The settlement was the biggest in history — $660 million. Most of the victims were paid more than $1 million each to settle their claim against the church. Some of the sexual abuse claims dated back to the 1940s. Records indicated that priests who had sexually abused children were simply moved to other churches. Other priests believed they could be rehabilitated, so many were given training. Nationwide, the Diocese has paid out around $2 billion to settle sexual abuse cases. In February 2004, a report commissioned by the Church said more than 4,000 Roman Catholic priests had been accused of sexually abusing children in the last 50 years.