Chicago will pay five female paramedics $1.825 million in a settlement over sexual harassment within the city’s fire department.
The City Council approved the settlement June 25, the women's lawyers said in a press release Tuesday.
The five paramedics, who have not been named publicly, filed the suit in 2018 alleging that the fire department reinforced a “code of silence” that “ignored sexual-harassment complaints and failed to conduct meaningful investigations of alleged sex discrimination,” according to the lawyers.
Among the allegations: a paramedic who reported her ex-boyfriend, also an employee of the fire department, for stalking but was retaliated against, another woman said a supervisor pressured her for sex, asking her for a “no strings attached relationship,” and another alleged that an ambulance commander grabbed her and forced her to grab his genitals. The plaintiffs and their legal team received funding from the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund.
“We are very proud to have been able to help in this case,” Sharyn Tejani, the fund's director, said in a statement. “These paramedics want to do their job and help the community; enduring sex harassment should not be the cost of doing their jobs.”
An audit of the fire department completed during the litigation revealed that 62 percent of female paramedics were sexually harassed on the job.
“Based upon the inspector general’s report, which confirmed widespread discrimination and harassment, and the implementation of a new female-led administration, we are optimistic that change will come from the top,” Tom Cramer, one of the lawyers in the case, said.
The Chicago Fire Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
At the time the suit was filed, the Chicago Department of Law had said the city "does not tolerate harassment of any kind." NBC News has reached out to the department for comment following the announcement of the settlement.