Fairfax County Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit with Former Firefighter

A former Virginia firefighter has settled a high-profile sexual harassment case with Fairfax County, according to Firehouse.com. Mary Getts Bland alleged repeated verbal harassment when she worked as a firefighter in Fairfax County. In March, a jury awarded Bland $250,000, which was appealed by the county and reduced to $50,000 by U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris.  Bland was awarded an additional $307,000 for attorneys fees, which was also appealed by Fairfax County.  Bland also settled those fees for “modestly less,” according to her attorney David Shapiro.

“Compromise is part of the process,” said Shapiro. “If we weren’t happy with the result, we wouldn’t have done the result. We got a lot of money as a result of the judge’s award.”

According to reports, Bland’s recruitment officer asked her if she “enjoyed being watched while she had sex,” and another “asked me if I like to be watched while I masturbate.” These are clear instances of sexual harassment and should not be tolerated in any work environment.

“As a probationary firefighter, I felt that any wave, ripple, whatever that I made in the department, I would lose my job,” Bland said.

No worker should be subjected to sexual harassment or feel threatened about reporting this type of behavior.

Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles employment law attorneys