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Women speak out about FDNY after settling $1M lawsuit against city

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jun 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-14 22:01:17-04

MANHATTAN (PIX11) – Five EMS veteran officers say the boys club of the fire department’s EMS constantly kept these girls out of play when it came to promotions solely because they are women.

Instead of using a standardized test to base promotions, like other public service departments, EMS chiefs appoint their captains and commanders.

“They would all congregate out front and smoke cigars together and it was a running joke that theres the cigar club,” said Kathleen Gonczi, a veteran EMS officer for 23 years.

“The old boy network,” described fellow plaintiff and EMS vet Mary Dandridge.

An EMS veteran of 23 years, Kathleen Gonczi says she applied to become a Captain six times before she got it and she never made any higher than that.

“Each time it seemed to be more and more ludicrous the reasons they were giving me,” said Gonczi.

Gonczi says she was a proven leader in the field, especially during 9/11 when she maintained command at Liberty Plaza for the first four days.  Her story was even featured in a book called ‘Women of Ground Zero.’

“What happens with open-ended way of promoting people, human nature takes over.  We were unfortunate to be under the command of an individual who was more bias to promoting his male counterparts than he was to the female, even though we were extremely more qualified for the position,” explained Gonczi.

That is why the girls got together to battle the boys by suing the city and FDNY for gender discrimination.

Seven years after filing the lawsuit, all five females involved, stood proudly in their uniforms Friday as they publicly announced their case is closed.

As PIX 11 first reported, they settled out of court for $1,063,507.

But it’s not about the money to these dedicated civil servants.  An EMS veteran of 27 years, Mary Dandridge says she hopes their high profile case will create change.

“If they really look and see as far as being fair, they would implement an exam.  I think the pressure is on and eventually they are going to have to change,” said Dandridge.