Exclusive: Two women sue the FDNY for gender discrimination
(Lake Success, NY) – She saved lives, nearly a dozen times and has the paperwork to prove it.
“I know I did my job very well,” said Eileen Dechbery, 33, of Staten Island, from her attorney’s office in Lake Success.
Dechbery thought she was treated differently because she is a woman. One time early on, she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office, EEOO, saying her supervisor was approving paperwork for her male coworkers ahead of her, which affected when she got paid. After that is when it all went downhill for her at Station 23 on Staten Island, she says, by way of retaliation.
It started with her name tag on her locker. She says someone changed it from Dechbery to “Duchbery.”
In fact, she says, coworkers started calling her that to her face.
“Who wants to work with douchebag today?” said Dechbery who says
It gets worse. She says when she went to get re-certified for CPR which she needed to pass to remain employed, she was flat-out abused.
“In all the years, I recertified for CPR, [the test] wasn’t more than 20 minutes… but this CPR, I was doing it for 4 hours straight.”
Four hours straight for four days straight, she says.
In the end, not only did she fail the test, which she had never done before, she says the constant compressions hurt her hands.
“[Lieutenant] He actually stopped me during CPR and gave me an ice pack because he saw how swollen and bruised my hands were, then had me keep on going,” Dechbery said.
As it turns out, according to her complaint, her CPR dummy was the only one with that contained a metal plate. No other trainees, she says, had a dummy with a metal plate.
As a result, both of her hands suffered severe tendinitis, needing casts and making her wear braces potentially for the rest of her life.
Months later, when she was 7 months pregnant with her little girl, Dechbery tripped and fell in the firehouse, spraining her ankle and fracturing her foot. She says she screamed for help but says the only nearby supervisor barely tried to help her.
Dechbery’s lawyer Linda Cronin, has 15 years of experience representing city employees in employment discrimination lawsuits. She says Dechbery’s case is over the top.
“It says to me nothing has changed. Employment discrimination is alive and well. Female is no different than any other minority in the abuse and retaliation they take, first on the job, god forbid, they try to complain.”
In fact, Cronin has another case pending right now, involving another female EMT, Deborah Teasdale who was forced to fail what is normally a routine driving test. Only two women over 50 took the test, she says. They both failed but the men all passed.
“The numbers don’t lie. That’s discrimination,” said Cronin.
As for Dechbery, who is a mom about to lose her job, she wanted to share her story in hopes of creating change so other women can feel more protected.
“I’m now like this for rest of my life, and I’m talked about, humiliated, blacklisted. I’ll never be able to wear uniform again, which so heart-wrenching. I never want this happening to anybody else, to any other females.”
Dechbery filed the lawsuit against the city in March of 2013.
They city responded with an Answer last week denying all allegations outlined in the complaint.
Dechbery is suing the city for emotional and physical damages caused by gender discrimination. The number could end up being in the millions of dollars.
As for Teasdale’s case, the city told PIX 11 News that it also denies the allegations.