SD Firefighters Win Gay Pride Harassment Lawsuit But Get Tiny Settlement

San Diego firefighters have finally triumphed in their lawsuit against the city for being forced to work a gay pride parade, where they claim they were sexually harassed by attendees. But the four plaintiffs must share a meager $34,000 settlement.

A jury found four San Diego firefighters who sued the city were sexually harassed after being ordered to participate in a gay pride parade. They also determined the group must split $34,300 in damages. Jurors deliberated for about two-and-a-half days before reaching the verdict Tuesday in the case brought by firefighters John Ghiotto, Jason Hewitt, Alex Kane and Chad Allison. The firemen said they were subjected to sexually charged conduct and lewd comments while riding a fire engine in the July 2007 parade. City attorneys said they will appeal the verdict.

Jurors were required to determine if the firefighters faced pervasive or severe harassment from spectators and participants. Nancy Chiquete, the jury foreperson, said reaching the decision was “not easy,” particularly because she said she lives in the city and knows its financial situation is not good. But, Chiquete said, “I felt truly like these four men were wronged by the situation.” The case was first heard in September but that jury was unable to reach a verdict on the sexual harassment claim. The jury did not know how much money the firefighters had asked for in the first trial, Chiquete said. She said that throughout the trial, the firefighters said they wanted to make a point and prevent the situation from happening to others and wanted to have the department’s policy changed. “So, I think in that sense, hopefully they got what they wanted,” she said. The firefighters’ attorney, Charles LiMandri, said he and his clients were pleased. “We won on every issue. This is what we’ve been fighting for. It’s what we’ve been working for. It’s been what we’ve been hoping for,” LiMandri said.

What fucking crybabies. The firefighters had asked for $1M each, but say they are satisfied with the settlement in light of San Diego’s dire economic situation. Working the pride parade is no longer an assigned duty for firefighters; the city asks for volunteers. We can only presume that gay firefighters can now successfully sue for sexual harassment the next time a female member of the public offers a “lewd comment.”