State Watch

Top official says LA fire department a ‘very hostile work environment’ for women

A top official at the Los Angeles Fire Department says the work environment is not friendly towards women.

“I mean, this is a very hostile work environment for women, a very hostile work environment,” Rebecca Ninburg, who’s been on the Board of Fire Commissions for six years, testified, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“The women are not safe to speak. They cannot talk about their — what has happened to them. It is not safe to do that. The same with the African Americans, it is just not safe,” Ninburg added.

Ninburg was testifying in a lawsuit police officer Matt Garza brought against Rick Jacobs, a high level adviser for Mayor Eric Garcetti. Garza is accusing Jacobs of sexually harassing him and the mayor witnessing the harassment and not doing anything about it.

Garcetti and Jacobs have denied the accusations.

The lawsuit came after allegations that male firefighters exposed themselves to female firefighters, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

Ninburg used her testimony to speak to the case and the general environment of sexual harassment in the fire department, saying the department has a “frat house” culture.

Ninburg also said she tried to get a study done about the work environment for women in the department, but an aide to the mayor said they wouldn’t do it because they didn’t want to damage the relationship with the firefighters’ union.

Some women in the fire department have pushed back against Ninburg’s claim, the local outlet noted.

“I have never been treated unfairly or felt that I cannot speak my mind or anything like that, ever,” firefighter Chelsey Grigsby said.

In a statement to The Hill, a spokesperson for the fire department said the department promotes an inclusive environment and doesn’t tolerate hostile behavior.

The LAFD strives to create an equal, balanced, and fair environment for all. Members are expected to promote and create a professional work environment. The Department maintains a zero-tolerance for behaviors that may lead to a hostile work environment,” the statement reads. “To achieve this expectation, Department members receive training such as EEO for Supervisors, Conflict Resolution, Implicit Bias Training, and Anti-Bias Learning for Employees.

“At any time, a member may file a complaint and has a number of options and resources including the Professional Standards Division, the Department’s EEO Coordinator, or the City’s Personnel Department,” it added. “Complaints, including those detailing a hostile work environment, are taken seriously and internally investigated.”

Tags Eric Garcetti Firefighter hostile work environment Los Angeles Sexual harassment Workplace bullying
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