30 March 2021
The Justice Department announced on 29 March 2021 that it has reached a settlement, through a consent decree, with the City of Orlando resolving allegations that the city discriminated and retaliated against Dawn Sumter, a female Assistant Fire Chief with the Orlando Fire Department because she sued the Department. The former fire chief then retaliated against her for complaining about the discrimination and harassment that she faced.

The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleges that the former fire chief, regularly subjected her to sexual harassment in the workplace. Then the former chief and deputy chiefs, took several harassing, retaliatory actions aimed at derailing Ms. Sumter’s career and prohibit her from advancement within the Fire Department because of her discrimination complaint.

Under the settlement decree the City of Orlando will develop and submit to the Department of Justice for approval its discrimination and retaliation policies, complaint investigation procedures, and training that will be used at the Fire Department. The decree also provides that the training for Fire Department employees on these policies is mandatory. The city will also pay Ms. Sumter $251,500 in compensatory damages and $182,640 in attorney’s fees to her private counsel.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to which Sumter made her complaint, found that there was sufficient evidence of discrimination. It failed ti reach a settlement and referred the matter to the Justice Department. The Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section brought this case in collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.
Department of Justice reported.