The fire department disclosed the fact of her complaints and its investigation to the men of the department.
A two-year-old lawsuit involving a ream of explosive sexual harassment allegations by an 18-year veteran of San Diego's fire and rescue department has been settled with a $525,000 payment quietly approved by the city council during an April 7 virtual meeting.
The approval came as part of the already obscure special meeting's so-called consent agenda, on which are placed a group of items that are not subject to public discussion before unanimous approval.
Sara Alfaro: "The atmosphere of the SDFD is undeniably a boys' club."
Because transparency laws, including many aspects of the state's open meeting act and the public records act, are being pushed aside during the coronavirus emergency, questions have arisen regarding whether the pandemic has become a way to justify shutting down public oversight of local government.
"By seeking blanket exemptions from the state's good government and transparency laws, California's municipal leaders, through the League of California Cities, are mimicking their counterparts in authoritarian-leaning countries," asserted an April 1 editorial by the Sacramento Bee
"They are trying to use COVID-19 as an excuse to evade democracy's rule."
In her 45-page complaint, lodged April 20, 2018, fire captain Sara Alfaro, alleged she had been victimized by years of sexual harassment by her male peers, claiming, "the atmosphere of the SDFD is undeniably a boys' club."
"In 2013, when Alfaro was at the Station 29 and had her hands full with gear and equipment, now retired Captain Broderick Perkins approached her and partially unzipped her top, exposing her chest," the complaint alleged.
"Previously, when she was at Station 12, Captain Perkins had also slapped her buttocks when she was standing on a ladder."
"Around 2014-2015," the document contends, "when Alfaro was the only permanent female firefighter at Station 10, she left a towel with her last name embroidered on it in a bathroom at the station, and later received a text message with a photograph of a penis physically resting on the towel, next to her name."
"A picture of Alfaro's face with a penis photoshopped in beside it was later passed around the department," the complaint added.
"Men in the department openly express male chauvinist and misogynist views in Alfaro's presence. Alfaro has heard male coworkers in the workplace referring to women as 'subservient' and discussing the bodies of the few women in the department."
Per the complaint, "Instead of taking immediate steps to protect Alfaro, SDFD and the city's HR department disclosed the fact of her complaints and its investigation to the men of the department, over Alfaro's repeated warnings that this would cause retribution by her male colleagues."