O'Rourke V. City of Providence

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Caleb Duncan02/17/2011
JULIA M. O'ROURKE, Plaintiff, Appellee,
CITY OF PROVIDENCE, Defendant, Appellant.
Plaintiff was a fire fighter for the City of Providence from 1992 to June 30, 1995. Plaintiff filed a five count complaint asserting hostile work environment and R.I. Gen. Law 28-5-24.1 (Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act); and disparate treatment. She also alleged violation of her equal rights and sought damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. Facts:

Until 1990, no female firefighters had ever served in the City of Providence Fire Department. In January, 1992, O'Rourke and six other women who had passed a written examination were admitted to the City's firefighter six-month training program, along with 77 male trainees. All through the fire academy, as well as her first several years working as a fire fighter, O’Rourke was slandered and sexually harassed. On July 10, 1995, O'Rourke filed a discrimination charge with the Rhode Island Commission of Human Rights and with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and received notice of right to sue. O'Rourke also filed a federal court complaint against the City on June 30, 1995, and an amended complaint on July 17, 1995. O'Rourke introduced evidence of harassment spanning the entire duration of her employment at the fire department from 1992 to 1994 including her time spent in training in 1992, the period in which she worked in the Chief's office later that year, her year-long stay at Engine 5 in 1993, and finally, her seven months at Engine 13 in 1994. Holding:

The court granted the motion as to the § 1983 counts against the City and individual defendants on the ground that there was no evidence that the City of Providence or the individual defendants had intentionally discriminated against O'Rourke. The court also dismissed O'Rourke's Title VII disparate impact claims as duplicative of her hostile work environment sexual harassment claim. The jury awarded O'Rourke...
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