Fire commissioner responds to gender discrimination allegations

Posted at 5:52 PM, May 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-24 18:41:30-04

Brooklyn, NY (PIX11) – A day after PIX 11’s exclusive report involving two women who came forward with their concerns about gender discrimination within the FDNY, Commissioner Sal Cassano is responding to the allegations.

We caught up with the Commissioner after he presided over a EMS ceremony for several EMT officers being promoted to the rank of Captain, including one woman.

On Thursday, Eileen Dechbery told PIX 11 News that she was speaking out because, “I will never be able to wear my uniform ever again and I don’t want this happening to anybody else, to any other females.”

Dechbery is an EMT on Staten Island who has helped save nearly a dozen lives on the job.  She says she was subjected to a hostile work environment, both emotionally and physically, solely because she is a woman.

She is not the only one.

Deborah Teasdale says she was fired from EMS because of gender discrimination.

They both have lawsuits against the FDNY and the city.

“I can’t comment on two cases because it is under litigation but I can assure that every member of this department can be treated with dignity and respect and we look at all aspects of it and if there is any kind of discrimination, we will certainly look at it,” said Cassano.

When asked if he would look into cases of gender discrimination being a potential problem, Cassano said, “I will look into anybody that works for me, with any kind of complaint.  We take them very seriously,” adding, “We will act on anything that comes up that is inappropriate but this is just two cases, very too early yet.”

While it is two cases that we know of right now, we contacted the city’s Corporate Counsel to get an exact number of pending gender discrimination lawsuits against the FDNY but office employees said since it was a holiday weekend, they could not provide the information.