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LA Fire Department faces costly lawsuits

Dan Laidman and Jason Kandel of the Los Angeles Daily News used records from the City Attorney's Office to show that, despite a decade of efforts to end harassment and discrimination within the Los Angeles Fire Department, the agency still faces frequent costly lawsuits. The number has ebbed and flowed over the years, but rose sharply from three in 2002-03 to 13 in 2004-05. "While many cases are pending, liability payouts have already topped $1 million in the past five fiscal years. The Supreme Court has refused to hear the city's appeal in another Fire Department labor case that could leave Los Angeles on the hook for more than $2 million. " Late last month, a heterosexual male firefighter filed a claim against the department alleging sexual harassment and discrimination. Between 2003 and 2005, the claim says, the 20-year veteran was abused by a supervisor who made sexually suggestive gestures and inappropriate remarks about the firefighter's wife, and threatened to fire him if he complained.

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