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Two firefighters sue Tulsa Fire Department for sex-discrimination

Firefighters responded to a house fire in north Tulsa early Friday. Jan. 21, 2022. (KTUL/Boyer)
Firefighters responded to a house fire in north Tulsa early Friday. Jan. 21, 2022. (KTUL/Boyer)
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Two Tulsa firefighters are suing the Tulsa Fire Department after they say they were discriminated for being women.

Julie Lynn and Greta Hurt said in the federal lawsuit that less qualified men got promotions over them.

Hurt made Tulsa Fire Department history in 2015 when she became the first female fire chief.

"I'm so proud to be a Tulsa firefighter," she said. "That was the saddest thing is for me to say that I'm no longer Tulsa firefighter."

Effective Aug. 1, Hurt will retire after 24 and a half years of service.

"I couldn't make it another six months," she said.

Retirement was her choice, but not the plan.

"This whole thing has been humiliating because I know my worth," said Hurt. "I know my value, and I let them make me feel lesser."

In the six-page lawsuit, Hurt and Lynn alleged TFD violated Title VII by subjecting them to "discrimination in the Fire Department promotion process and to a hostile work environment based on their sex."

"I hated that it's come to this because I always thought fairness and justice," said Lynn.

The lawsuit alleges the women were passed over for promotions twice.

The lawsuit alleges the first time was in July 2020, when Hurt and Lynn were the only female candidates for Deputy Chief of Field Operations.

According to the lawsuit, "Lynn was subjected to pressure from her superiors and other firefighters to withdraw her name."

The lawsuit said Hurt did not get the job, and "a less qualified male candidate" was selected instead.

The second time, according to the lawsuit, was in August 2021 when two Assistant Chief positions were open.

According to the lawsuit, Hurt and Lynn were the only female firefights qualified to apply.

There were two other candidates which the lawsuit said were men "who were less qualified."

The lawsuit said the men were selected for those positions.

Hurt, according to the lawsuit, filed complaints with HR both times, adding she was shut out.

"District Chief meetings, executive staff meetings, command staff meetings, never invited, never, never knew what was going on," she said. "I had to hear about things secondhand."

Lynn and Hurt are asking the court for lost wages and retirement benefits, as well as demanding that Lynn get the next FD-07 promotion.

They are also asking for the department to update their policies.

"Anything that has to do with the diversity inclusion, or specifically women or family, there's nothing really included in any of our policy," explained Hurt. "I just want someone to be accountable to say, you know, this needs to end we need to come up to business standards that other professions have in this day."

As the highest ranking woman in the department, Hurt wants to encourage other female firefighters to continue to push forward.

"Keep working hard," she said. "Keep a positive attitude. You know, you don't just say it, do it. If you want a promotion, earn it. Don't ever want anything handed to you."

The City of Tulsa declined NewsChannel 8's request for an interview.

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Matt Lay, president of Tulsa IAFF Local 176, provided the following statement:

"A fundamental objective of Tulsa IAFF Local 176 is to see that no member be treated in a discriminator manner. The Union is aware of the filing and will review before making further statements at this time."


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