City of Trenton slapped with sexual harassment lawsuit by fire department employee

A Trenton Fire Department employee has sued the city over what she describes as a sexually hostile work environment. 

The complaint was filed on August 31 in the Superior Court of New Jersey. In it, the woman alleges both the hostile work environment and that she was retaliated against for objecting to the harassment which would violate the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). 

The 13 page complaint lists the City of Trenton and 10 John Does as the defendants. 

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Trenton Journal will not be naming the plaintiff or the defendants at this time.

According to the lawsuit, the woman began working for the Fire Department in September 2020, but has been on leave since July 2022. The complaint details several instances of alleged sexually harassing and retaliatory behavior that occurred on so many occasions that the Plaintiff could not list all of the occurrences.  But generally, she alleges:

  • Harassment by Fire Department Employees based on her gender that led to a hostile, intimidating and abusive work environment. 
  • Harassment that was willfully ignored by members of upper management – or that managers participated in.

Because of that work environment, she is asking the court to consider punitive damages in addition to being compensated for the harm that was allegedly caused to her. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in lawsuits like these in New Jersey, but they’re meant to punish the defendants and allow the victim to receive much higher financial compensation.

The woman who is suing is seeking a jury trial  and asks that if the court decides to reinstate her or give her back pay – that she be awarded her lost wages, benefits and fringe benefits as well. All of the defendants in this case are men. 

The lawsuit asks that they be directed to preserve evidence, like electronic data storage, closed circuit TV footages, digital images, computer images, cache memory, searchable data, emails, spreadsheets, employment files, memos, text  messages and any and all online social or work related websites, entries on social networking sites and any other information and/or data and/or things and/or documents which may be relevant to any claim or defense in the  litigation.  

Out of approximately 260 workers, the Trenton Fire Department employs, only six are women. Trenton Fire and Emergency Services is one of the oldest in the nation. Established as a volunteer company in 1747, it became a paid department in 1892. The first woman fire fighter in the city was hired in 1995.

This lawsuit comes on the heels of former Trenton Police Director, Sheilah Coley, filing a lawsuit against the city for alleged racist and sexist discrimination during her term as director.  We reached out to the Mayor Reed Gusciora for comment, but were told that the city does not comment on pending litigation.  We promise to keep you updated as this story develops. 


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