Orlando assistant fire chief files lawsuit against city, former fire chief for discrimination, sexual harassment

ORLANDO, Fla. — A female assistant fire chief filed a lawsuit against the city of Orlando and the former fire chief for discrimination, sexual harassment and more.

The lawsuit comes almost two years after former chief Rod Williams resigned.

9 Investigates broke the news last year that Williams resigned after a determination from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that some of the claims from the assistant were correct.

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The new lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Assistant Fire Chief Dawn Sumter is accusing the city and Williams of seven counts of wrong-doing, including gender discrimination and retaliation, sexual harassment and battery.

Sumter is requesting a jury trial and seeking compensation for lost wages, mental and emotional distress.

Sumter served with the Orlando Fire Department for 27 years.

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During that time, she said she was overlooked and passed over for advancement, reporting less qualified male colleagues were promoted while she wasn’t.

The Department of Justice was even called in to speak with women inside the department.

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A spokeswoman for the fire department told Channel 9′s Cierra Putman the city has not been served yet, so they did not comment on the allegations.

However, they said Orlando Fire Department “refuses(s) to accept the male-dominated culture that exists in firehouses across the county,” which is why it created an equity action plan.

Cierra Putman

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.