LAFD Firefighter Who Won $1.54 Million Tentatively Settles Second Suit

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles city firefighter awarded $1.54 million by jurors who heard the trial of his lawsuit alleging he suffered a backlash and emotional distress after complaining that a colleague threatened to drop a bomb on him has reached a settlement of a second complaint he filed alleging further retaliation.

Last Nov. 2, a Los Angeles Superior Court panel reached its verdict in the first of two lawsuits brought by plaintiff James Sharlein against the city, alleging retaliation, whistleblower retaliation and failure to prevent harassment or retaliation. The jury rejected Sharlien's harassment claims.

In his second suit filed in August 2022, Sharlein maintained he has been denied promotions and suffered a further backlash for speaking out. Sharlein further says that since filing his first case he has been subjected to multiple adverse workplace transfers, denied chances for promotions and subjected to ostracism.

Sharlein's attorneys filed court papers on Thursday notifying Judge Daniel M. Crowley of a "conditional" accord in the second suit that is subject to City Council approval. No terms were divulged.

Sharlein, 39, worked at Fire Station 50 when female firefighter Ta'Ana Mitchell was assigned there in December 2017 as a probationary firefighter, according to his first suit filed in December 2018. That month, she allegedly began making inappropriate remarks about him, including, "I wanted to drop a bomb on Sharlein" and "If he was a girl, I would have beat his (epithet)," both of which were allegedly made in the presence of the plaintiff and a Los Angeles Fire Department supervisor.

Mitchell also said she wanted to sock Sharlein in the face and that her brother, who recently was released from jail, wanted to beat him up, according to the first complaint.

Mitchell told members of the LAFD command staff that the plaintiff was harassing her, an allegation she knew was untrue, the first suit stated.

LAFD management knew or should have known of Mitchell's alleged misconduct, but did not stop it even after Sharlein complained, according to the initial lawsuit. Instead, supervisors allegedly denied him promotions to favored positions and transferred him to less favorable and "potentially more dangerous" work locations.

Sharlein also maintained he was not given chances to earn overtime pay, falsely accused of spreading gossip and rumors about another firefighter and subjected to improper investigations.

In their court papers, lawyers for the City Attorney's Office argued Sharlein could not tie any alleged harassment to his race or gender and that Mitchell denied making some of the offensive remarks the plaintiff attributed to her.

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