April 2019 Issue Number 225
Is a monthly electronic newsletter which links current events and issues to the daily challenges faced by fire and emergency services managers. Current topics in the areas of leadership development, workplace diversity, change management, and conflict resolution will be discussed.
I hope that you find the information here useful and provocative.
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Power and Shame
A firefighter with Las Vegas Fire and Rescue has filed a lawsuit against the Cities of Las Vegas and Henderson, as well as several high ranking officials with LVFR. The plaintiff claims that the city mishandled her complaint of harassment after a private sex video of her surfaced and was viewed by over a dozen department members. She is asking for $25,000 in back pay from the incident.
The woman filing charges had previously been involved in a consensual, intimate relationship with a firefighter from the Henderson Fire Department. She ended that relationship due to what she described as "obsessive, possessive" behavior on the part of the man. Around six months later, the sex video was shared with members of Las Vegas Fire Rescue.
The affected firefighter immediately filed a complaint with her department. The department's response was to put her on unpaid leave in June while it investigated the complaint. A battalion chief told her in September that some employees were disciplined, but that nothing illegal had occurred and it would take time for the incident "to blow over." It is unclear what if any discipline was ultimately handed down.
So let me get this straight. A woman has an intimate, private video shared with her coworkers by an ex-boyfriend without her permission, and she's the one on unpaid leave? And there are no apparent repercussions for anyone else?
Some might say that this woman is responsible for the outcome since she made the video in the first place. And although she must certainly regret doing so now, such behavior is well within the norms for today's young people and the technology they grew up with. In one university study, nearly half of all people surveyed had sent a naked photo of themselves to someone else.
There is a lot of potential revenge porn out there, but even though naked photos are a gender neutral pursuit, it’s women who are primarily the targets of shaming campaigns around sexting. This is particularly true in professions and environments where women are in a distinct minority. Sharing that video wasn't about sex, it was about power. And it is clear from the events so far where the power lies.
Sources: Las Vegas Now, March 8, 2019 and The New York Times, January 14, 2019