The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously in favor of two Arizona firefighters who claimed they were fired as a result of age discrimination. The ruling affirms that the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) covers state and local governments without regard to the number of workers they employ. The ruling was a victory for John Guido, 46 when he was laid off, and Dennis Rankin, then 54, in their lawsuit against the Mount Lemmon Fire District.
Source: USA Today, November 6, 2018
What Are They Thinking?
I often wonder about the leaders of the real fire departments used as the settings for the current fire-based television dramas. These departments (Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle) have voluntarily cooperated with the production of these programs. Are they happy with the way they are portrayed?
Specifically, I wonder how the real Seattle fire chief feels about his fictional counterpart who is currently involved in a sexual relationship with a woman firefighter. It's hard to imagine that he approves when the TV Seattle fire chief has sex with the firefighter in the station locker room, while both are on duty.
I understand that television is primarily entertainment, and that all programs must be overdramatized to sell. I expect the firefighters to go on major incidents every shift and to routinely get themselves into death-defying situations. I understand that there will always be a soap-opera element to any TV show or movie about emergency services.
But the fire chief sleeping with a firefighter? This is a bridge too far.
Do firefighters have personal and sexual relationships with one another? Absolutely, as people in all work environments do. But it is different when the chief is involved.
Fire chiefs cannot separate themselves from any member of the department. They are in charge of everyone, have power over everyone. And their power is nearly absolute, which is one of the biggest problems with intimate relationships. It is impossible for a relationship with a firefighter be equal. Even if the intention is not coercive, the power in the relationship will always be skewed.
Consider the case of a Minnesota fire chief who recently resigned from his position after admitting to engaging in an inappropriate relationship that was sexual with another city employee. When the city administrator was asked why the relationship was inappropriate, he responded, "For a department head of a city, it’s inappropriate." The chief himself characterized the relationship as "unprofessional."
Exactly. If you want to be fire chief, you cannot go there. And fire chiefs on TV should not be going there either.
Source: Pioneer Press, November 10, 2018
© Linda F. Willing, 2018