TULSA, Okla. — Two of the highest ranking women to ever serve in the Tulsa Fire Department (TFD) are suing their employer over claims of sex discriminations and retaliation when they tried to apply for promotions.
In a federal lawsuit, TFD Chief of Health and Safety Greta Hurt and TFD District 4 Chief Julie Lynn are suing for lost wages, damages and mandatory changes within TFD to avoid future gender discrimination practices.
Both women joined TFD back in 1998 and worked their way up the ladder when promotions were open, the lawsuit states, but it was recent applications for advancement is where not only were the two rejected, but their daily tasks were altered in a way that made their work harder to perform and the environment was hostile towards them for speaking up.
According to the lawsuit, the incident started in July 2020. Hurt and Lynn were eligible to apply for the position of deputy chief of field operations. The suit states, TFD has a policy that when more than three candidates apply for a job, an outside agency must be assigned to find the best candidate.
In court documents, Lynn stated she was pressured by her supervisors and other firefighters to withdraw her name so that an outside agency assessment would not be needed. Hurt would also not be selected. The lawsuit claims the job went to a lesser qualified man.
Hurt, while holding holding the job of administrative chief, and being the first woman to do so, filed a sex discrimination compliant, the lawsuit stated.
In March 2021, Hurt stated in the lawsuit, she was moved to chief of health and safety, “perceived to be a position of less significance within TFD.” Hurt was also given a new, remote office away from the Fire Chief and executive staff, and she was excluded from normal involvement from department duties that the Chief of Health and Safety had historically participated in.
In August 2021, the lawsuit goes on to state, Lynn and Hurt applied for two open Assistant Chief positions. They were up against ne male applicant each. No outside agency was needed for the hiring. Out of the four applicants, court documents state, the two women were not hired, and those who received the job had less experience than the two women had.
At the end of August, Hurt and Lynn filed complaints with the city of Tulsa’s Human Resources Department, describing what they had experienced during their recent attempts for promotion. Hurt, the lawsuit stated, has been shunned by TFD administrators, and Lynn said she has experienced detrimental work conditions since filing her complaint.
The city of Tulsa told FOX23 they do not comment on pending litigation.
The women and their attorneys are asking for a jury trial where they hope to recover lost wages and benefits, in addition to having the court order TFD to set up safeguard and procedures to where sex discrimination can be addressed before it escalates to this point ever again.
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