Former Boston firefighter is awarded $3.2M in sex discrimination case


Former Boston firefighter is awarded $3.2M in sex discrimination case after ‘she was harassed by male colleagues and denied a promotion when she reported a colleague who was convicted of assaulting her’

  • The agreement with Nathalie Fontanez was finalized last month 
  • During a news conference, Fontanez named former firefighter David Sanchez as the person who assaulted her inside a Jamaica Plain firehouse in Jan 2018
  • Sanchez was convicted in January 2020 of one count of indecent assault and battery and one count of assault and battery for the he assault
  • He was sentenced to two years probation
  • Fontanez joined the Boston Fire Department in November 2011 
  • She said that the other firefighters turned on her when she came forward about the assault 

The agreement with Nathalie Fontanez was finalized last month

The agreement with Nathalie Fontanez was finalized last month

A former Boston firefighter who said she was sexually harassed by male colleagues while on the job, then denied a better position as retaliation for reporting the harassment, has received  a $3.2 million settlement from the city, her attorneys said Tuesday.

The agreement with Nathalie Fontanez was finalized last month, said her attorneys, who include Gloria Allred.

During a news conference with Allred, Fontanez named former firefighter David Sanchez as the person who assaulted her inside a Jamaica Plain firehouse in January 2018. 

Sanchez was convicted in January 2020 of one count of indecent assault and battery and one count of assault and battery for the he assault. He was sentenced to two years probation, the Boston Globe reports.    

A message seeking comment was left with the city.

‘This result was obtained because of Nathalie’s courage in pursuing this case and her refusal to allow the city of Boston to get away with denying her legal rights to enjoy equal employment opportunity and be free of sexual harassment in the workplace, and retaliation against her for protesting it,’ Allred said during an online news conference. 

During a news conference with Allred, Fontanez named former firefighter David Sanchez as the person who assaulted her inside a Jamaica Plain firehouse in January 2018

During a news conference with Allred, Fontanez named former firefighter David Sanchez as the person who assaulted her inside a Jamaica Plain firehouse in January 2018

She said that the other firefighters turned on her when she came forward about the assault

She said that the other firefighters turned on her when she came forward about the assault

Fontanez joined the Boston Fire Department in November 2011 because she wanted to help people and, as a single mother, wanted to end her reliance on minimum wage jobs and welfare, she said.

‘I wanted to be one of Boston’s bravest. I wanted my daughter to be proud. I wanted to be the woman I never saw driving fire trucks through my neighborhood,’ she said.

She said she was harassed and ostracized when she complained to her superiors about the hazing she endured, made to feel ‘like a second-class citizen amongst my colleagues.’

'The guys that I once relied on for my life safety now turned against me,' she said. 'I felt as though everyone was my enemy'

‘The guys that I once relied on for my life safety now turned against me,’ she said. ‘I felt as though everyone was my enemy’ 

‘I felt that I had to tolerate anything that came my way, because I was lucky to be there,’ she said. ‘I was often reminded by some of my colleagues that I had taken a job from a man who could have been providing for his family, even though I was a single parent providing for mine.’   

Fontanez joined the Boston Fire Department in November 2011

Fontanez joined the Boston Fire Department in November 2011

Fontanez said that the other firefighters turned on her when she came forward about the assault. 

‘The guys that I once relied on for my life safety now turned against me,’ she said. ‘I felt as though everyone was my enemy.’ 

She later added: ‘I’m breaking my silence, because I believe that women firefighters deserve equal treatment in the Boston Fire Department.’

When Fontanez expressed interest in joining the Boston Fire Investigation Unit, following Sanchez’s conviction, she was told that the position was available only to firefighters with greater seniority. But she later learned the job went to a white male who joined the department on the same day as her.

‘I felt forced to surrender my career as a firefighter, because I did not feel that I would be safe from some of my brother firefighters if I returned,’ she said.

Allred added: ‘This denial of equal employment opportunity served as yet another example of the discrimination suffered by Nathalie based on her gender.’

She said: 'I'm breaking my silence, because I believe that women firefighters deserve equal treatment in the Boston Fire Department'

She said: ‘I’m breaking my silence, because I believe that women firefighters deserve equal treatment in the Boston Fire Department’

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