Settlement reached after assistant fire chief sues Orlando alleging gender discrimination, harassment

City will pay Dawn Sumter $251,000 in compensatory damages

ORLANDO, Fla. – A settlement has been reached after an assistant fire chief sued the city of Orlando alleging gender discrimination and harassment, according to the Department of Justice.

A consent decree was reached on Monday.

Dawn Sumter said she was sexually harassed by the former fire chief and was retaliated against by the fire department for complaining, according to the DOJ.

In December 2020, Sumter said she was denied the opportunity to be considered for a promotion to deputy fire chief in favor of two less qualified employees.

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According to the lawsuit from last year, Sumter was fully qualified to be promoted but during former Orlando Fire Chief Roderick Williams’ tenure, she was not considered or interviewed. Sumter went to HR with her complaints but the lawsuit alleges HR “refused to investigate.”

“The type of sexual harassment and retaliation allegedly suffered by the assistant fire chief in this case prevents women who work in jobs historically dominated by men from protecting and serving the public on an equal basis,” principal deputy assistant attorney general Pamela S. Karland said.

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The Orlando Fire Department will have to develop and submit approval for its discrimination and retaliation policies.

The DOJ said all employees of the fire department will have to go through training on the policies each year.

Prosecutors said the city will pay Sumter $251,000 in compensatory damages and $182,640 in attorney fees.