Practical Support for the Changing World at Work 
Linda F. Willing
P.O. Box 148
Grand Lake, CO
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Consider This... August 2019 Issue Number 229

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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Upcoming Events  

Fire-Rescue International will take place August 5-10, 2019 in Atlanta, GA.

Now available! On the Line: Women Firefighters Tell Their Stories by Linda F. Willing. This book features interviews with over 35 women firefighters from the United States and Canada. The book is available from major online booksellers, and signed copies may be ordered through this website.


In the News

The Price of Trust

In April, a Denver fire officer was arrested after it was discovered that he had placed a motion activated camera in a female firefighter's changing room. The lieutenant, a 27 year veteran of the department, had retired days after the allegation was made. He was charged with tampering with physical evidence, a felony, and invasion of privacy for sexual gratification, a misdemeanor.

This is not the only recent case that involved a hidden camera intended to record women undressing. A similar case occurred in Austin, Texas and the military has also been dealing with the offense on Navy ships and submarines.

There is so much wrong with these incidents it is hard to know where to start. The fact that the fire officer tried to write the behavior off as a joke just makes it worse.

The violation is real for the women involved, and not just because they were being spied on. The fact that the officer was the one initiating the activity intensifies the violation. In fact, when the Denver woman first discovered the camera, she reported it to her officer, unable to imagine he was the one behind it.

Trust is critical in the fire service. Firefighters literally put their lives in the hands of their coworkers. Company officers make life and death decisions for their crews. The fact that someone could so callously violate that trust with a coworker does more than just destroy a personal relationship. That a senior officer would feel okay about doing such a thing, and even brag about it to others, brings into question the culture of an organization that could allow such behavior to occur.

Source: The Denver Post, April 7, 2019


News Brief

Prince George's County officials recently announced that the first African-American woman will lead the Prince George's County Fire Department. Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced Chief Deputy Tiffany Green will be the interim replacement for Chief Benjamin Barksdale, who is retiring.

Source: wusa9.com July 30, 2019


Sexual Harassment Update

Hairstyle Discrimination

Earlier this month, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill making California the first state to ban workplace and school discrimination against black people for wearing hairstyles such as braids, twists and locks.

The new law will take effect January 1. It is significant because federal courts have historically held that hair is a characteristic that can be changed, meaning there is no basis for discrimination complaints based on hairstyle. The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear the case of an Alabama woman who said she didn't get a job because she refused to change her hair.

Although California is the first state with such a law, New York City earlier this year issued legal guidance banning discrimination against someone based on their hairstyle. Exemptions to the law may be made for safety reasons, but the burden of proof could be on the employer.

Historically, employers have been given wide latitude to enforce grooming standards in the workplace. However, this bill adds language to the state's discrimination laws to say that "race" also includes "traits historically associated with race," including hair texture and hairstyles.

Source: The Associated Press, July 4, 2019


© Linda F. Willing, 2019