Appeals court sides with firefighters over ‘sexual harassment’ at gay pride event


Four San Diego firefighters who lodged a complaint against the city for being forced to participate in a gay pride parade in 2007, won a court victory this week when an appeals court upheld that their participation in the event subjected them to “sexual harassment.”

On Thursday, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District upheld a jury verdict ruling that firefighters from the San Diego Fire Department should not have been mandated to take part in the city’s 2007 pride event.

“The record contains substantial evidence to support a finding that the sexual harassment experienced by the Firefighters during the Pride Parade was severe and pervasive, thus altering the conditions of employment and creating a hostile or abusive work environment,” the Court said in its ruling.

In 2009, a jury found the firefighters were sexually harassed by some parade participants and spectators and awarded them a total of $34,300 plus more than a half-million dollars in legal fees.

The firefighters, John Ghiotto, Chad Allison, Jason Hewitt and Alexander Kane, claim they were sexually harassed through obscene gestures and cat calls at the event.

“We hope this ruling will end the city’s attempts to defend its act of compelling people to participate in sexually-charged events against their moral and personal convictions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco, co-counsel in the case.

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