Jurors to Decide in San Diego Fireman-Pride Parade Lawsuit

fireprideSan Diego’s brave firemen put their lives on the line rescuing people from burning building and putting out wildfires, but for four San Diego firefighters, riding a truck through the annual Pride Parade was just too scary for words. So, after meeting a lawyer, they sued the SDFD for sexual harassment, asking for upwards of a million each in damages. The case is expected to go to the jury tomorrow.

The firefighters maintain that they were forced to attend the parade against their will, but in their testimony, they admit that for the most part, the more than 100,000 folks along the parade route were pretty nice. The San Diego Union-Tribune writes:

“The city’s best defense is, ‘Even if you were harassed, it was not severe or pervasive,’ ” said Shaun Martin, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law. “The law is unclear, and the fact that this is a hot-button issue makes this an even harder case. It’s going to be difficult to keep the jurors’ prejudices out of the decision-making.”

Deputy City Attorneys Don Shanahan and Kristin Zlotnik often pointed out that the firefighters weren’t touched, and all four firefighters testified that they did not feel threatened.

They were sitting about 6 feet off the ground in a fire engine, and each agreed the diesel engine and headphones silenced some of the comments. At one point, they rolled up the windows. Each also testified that most people in the crowd, estimated at more than 100,000, dressed and acted appropriately, and many waved and cheered as the engine passed.

The firefighters either contradicted themselves or each other when describing the amount of abuse.

Kane used the word “pockets” to describe the inappropriate behavior along the route, but he also testified it was consistent throughout.

Allison testified: “It was intermittent, . . . but if you incorporate verbal and visual, it was pretty much throughout.”

When LiMandri asked Allison to quantify the number of comments he heard, he put the figure “in the hundreds.” Shanahan asked Allison why he didn’t include that in the discrimination claim he filed shortly after the parade.

“You talk about (in the claim) gestures from three individuals and several witnesses blowing kisses, but nothing about the hundreds of comments,” Shanahan said. “Didn’t you think . . . that would be significant?”

Shanahan asked Allison to read one sentence from his claim: “I believe that a person who does not support homosexuality should not be forced to participate.”

LiMandri asked his client to read the next sentence: “However, my complaint is that I was ordered into a nonemergency environment against my will and was subjected to sexual harassment as a result.”

So, does this mean that the gay and lesbian community of San Diego gets to sue the city for hiring a bunch of greedy, opportunistic homophobes?