Redlands Fire Department Engineer Sues City For Gender Discrimination

A woman who was recently promoted to the position of  captain with the Redlands fire department has sued the city, its fire chief and two battalion chiefs, alleging she was thrice earlier denied that promotion on the basis of gender discrimination.
Eva Toppos, 36, who went to work with the Redlands Fire Department in June 2001, was named firefighter of the year in 2008 and  was promoted to engineer in July 2009, alleges she twice, in 2009 and 2011, tested at the forefront of her colleagues who were vying for the position of fire captain but was not promoted. She claims that when she applied to take part in the competition for an open captain position in 2007, she was not permitted to do so.
In Toppos’ suit, her attorney, Michael McGill, asserts that fire chief Jeff Frazier in 2009 told her she had “performed exceptionally but would not be respected as a captain because she is a woman” and in 2011 Frazier told her she had finished second and there was nothing about her performance that needed to be improved upon. According to Toppos, Frazier assured her she would eventually be promoted if she continued in the capacity of “engineer for another year or two and let the guys get used to the idea of a female captain.”
According to the suit, “Plaintiff was not promoted even though she had more experience than the two firefighters that were promoted.”
McGill maintains Toppos experienced retaliation and harassment for complaining, including being subjected to rumors of her having affairs with some of her colleagues, which she believed may have led to two stress-induced miscarriages. She was also subjected to obloquy for taking maternity leave, according to the suit.
“Plaintiff’s gender was a motivating reason for the actions taken against plaintiff,” McGill states in the suit.
The suit was filed on June 11. Almost simultaneously, Toppos received a promotion to fire captain.
In its response, the city denied all of the allegations in the lawsuit. Redlands officials would not respond to questions about whether Toppos’ promotion was made before or after the lodging of the lawsuit or whether the promotion was given in response to the suit.

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