September 05, 2023 Baltimore County
TOWSON, MD – Baltimore County today announced it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve charges by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that, prior to the Olszewski administration, the Baltimore County Fire Department (BCoFD) violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting 11 female employees to a hostile work environment.
“All employees have a fundamental right to be free from harassment of any kind in the workplace,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “While this incident occurred prior to our administration, we are entering into this agreement with our federal partners to ensure Baltimore County continues working to promote a safe, supportive workplace free from discrimination in all its forms.”
“Every employee deserves to feel safe in the workplace and I am proud of the progress we have started under my tenure to diversify our department and strengthen our culture,” said Baltimore County Fire Chief Joanne Rund. “Through this agreement, the Department is sending a clear message that Baltimore County will not tolerate harassment in the workplace and I fully support the steps required to ensure we are doing all we can to be supportive of all of our people.”
According to the EEOC Complaint, in June of 2017, a former BCoFD male employee distributed to and solicited nude photographs of several female BCoFD employees on a social media platform. The Complaint alleged that the Department failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action to address this hostile work environment.
As part of the consent decree, the United States acknowledged that the current administration is committed to developing improved policies, procedures, and trainings in order to resolving the issues alleged in the Complaint.
Under the terms of the consent decree, the Baltimore County Fire Department will develop and implement to a DOJ-approved revised fair practices policy and complaint investigation process. The consent decree also requires BCoFD to provide live, interactive, annual training on these subjects for all Fire Department employees and requires the Department to develop and administer a workplace climate survey plan to gauge employees’ views. Further, the County will pay a total of $275,000 to the 11 female employees for the harm they experienced.
The agreement has been submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland for approval.