Saturday, February 21, 2009
San Diego firefighters John Ghiotto, Jason Hewitt, Alex Kane and Chad Allison compensated $34,300 for driving a fire truck in the city's "gay pride"
The four San Diego firefighters who were commanded against their wills to drive a fire truck in the city's "gay pride" parade, where they were subjected to explicit sexual advances and obscenities, have won their case.
A jury of eight women and four men deliberated for 2½ days and found that the firefighters, who were ordered to ride a fire engine in San Diego's 2007 homosexual parade, were sexually harassed by homosexual participants and spectators.
Jurors awarded a total of $34,300 to Capt. John Ghiotto and firefighters Jason Hewitt, Alex Kane and Chad Allison.The original trial, held September 22, 2008, ended in a mistrial when the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the sexual harassment claim.
Charles LiMandri, attorney and West Coast director of the Thomas More Law Center representing the firefighters, believes the city should have known from past experience, "the kind of offensive activities that go on at this event," which in this case involved obscene catcalls, genital exposure, and simulated sex acts between homosexuals.
"These men were sexually harassed in clear violation of San Diego's sexual harassment code," LiMandri said. "Further, the California Constitution's freedom of speech provision prohibits compelled speech. What the firefighters were ordered to do was endorse what goes on at this parade through their participation in it."
"Government employees should never be forced to participate in events or acts that violate their sincerely held beliefs," LiMandri explained. "We are pleased with the jury's verdict recognizing the firefighters' right to abstain from activities that they consider morally offensive and that subject them to harassment."
Capt. Ghiotto told reporters outside the courthouse, "About 98% of people on the job agreed with what we were doing. We felt unless we stood up for ourselves, it was going to happen again."
Links to similar articles
Firefighters Ordered Into Gay Parade