An emergency medical technician for the City of San Diego says the fire department denied her a job because of her gender.
Nicole Pappas filed a lawsuit against the department on September 13 for discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation.
The lawsuit adds to a number of discrimination lawsuits filed against the city, its police force, lifeguard department, and the fire department.
Pappas applied to become a firefighter in 2015. In August of that year, Pappas was accepted as one of 36 recruits for the firefighter academy. Among the recruits, there were 33 men and 3 women.
Pappas, in her lawsuit, states that the women were forced to share locker rooms with the men. The harassment began shortly after. Pappas claims she found drawings of penises on her locker. The male recruits commented on her body, calling her "skinny" or saying she had a "fat butt."
During training drills, other recruits purposely knocked her down. In one instance, Pappas answered a question before a male recruit. According to the lawsuit, the instructor then stated, "You're going to let a girl answer the question and get it right before you."
Independent of Pappas's case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had opened an investigation into gender discrimination at the academy based on complaints by Pappas's female classmates.
Some time later, Pappas went to a bar and ran into a San Diego firefighter. He told Pappas that he was aware of the investigation. He then said she would never become a firefighter.
The complaint states that to address complaints of gender discrimination at the academy, the city would stop requiring recruits to run three miles in 24 minutes or less.
In 2016, after Pappas's leg had healed from an injury, she resumed training. During the training, despite the changes supposedly made, Pappas was unable to finish the three-mile run in 24 minutes. The city then terminated her employment.
According to the lawsuit, Pappas continues to work for Rural Metro as an EMT.