Lesbian firefighter claims she was fired for reporting relentless, daily sexual harassment from straight male colleague

Patrick Kelleher December 8, 2020
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Firefighter putting out a fire

Lesbian firefighter Kira Castellon alleged that she was subjected to years of sexual harassment by a male colleague. (Stock image/Envato Elements)

A lesbian firefighter has alleged she was fired after enduring years of sexual harassment from a male colleague.

In a lawsuit filed in the Middlesex County Superior Court, Kira Castellon said she was sacked from her role as a fire inspector in Piscataway, New Jersey, because she made an allegation of sexual harassment, according to My Central Jersey.

In the lawsuit, filed against the township, Arbor Hose Company 1 and Fire District 3, Castellon said she joined the fire service in 2015, where she was the only female firefighter on staff.

Her sexuality was “generally known” by her co-workers and did not pose a problem until she was promoted in September 2016.

Following her promotion, a male colleague allegedly began an “almost daily” campaign of sexual harassment against her, beginning in late 2016 and continuing until January 2019.

Lesbian firefighter says she was told: ‘I’ll make you straight again.’

During this time, the male colleague allegedly kissed and groped her repeatedly. According to the lawsuit, he “thrust his pelvis into (her) from all directions as his way of saying hello and goodbye”.

He also allegedly told Castellon on a number of occasions: “I’ll make you straight again.”

The campaign of harassment reportedly occurred in the presence of other staff members.

“The sexual harassment was open and notorious which became widely known throughout the firehouse,” the lawsuit said.

The sexual harassment continued after Castellon returned to work following surgery. At one point, while on crutches, she struggled “to stay upright as he groped her and thrust his pelvis into her rear-end”.

In her lawsuit, Castellon said she reported the abuse but that the company made no effort to enforce an anti-harassment policy.

Her employment was eventually terminated on 30 October, 2019, after the company accused her of using its tax-exempt status to buy personal goods at a local store. The company alleged that she used the tax exempt code for personal goods, but Castellon said in her lawsuit that the items she bought were used at the the firehouse.

“It is clear that (Castellon’s) prior reports of sexual harassment and her continued efforts to combat the workplace harassment which tortured her experience at the firehouse since she arrived, were a motivating, if not sole factor in (the) decision to terminate her employment,” the lawsuit said.


Related topics: New Jersey

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