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“Act like a slave”: Black women sue Denver over alleged racial, gender discrimination in DFD

Posted at 3:41 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 17:41:52-04

DENVER — Two Black women sued the city of Denver on Wednesday over allegations that members of the Denver Fire Department systematically discriminated against them both because of their gender and their race.

Da Lesha Allen and Charmaine Cassie say they unfairly faced tougher standards and stricter scrutiny than their white male colleagues, and that colleagues and supervisors made racist comments about their hair and bodies and applied racist stereotypes to the women after they joined the department in 2019 and 2018, respectively.

One fire captain told Cassie that she would struggle to get through the fire department’s training program because of the department’s culture, and said that she should “keep her head down and act like a slave” in order to graduate from the training, according to the lawsuit.

A lieutenant commented several times on Cassie’s body, including declaring that she had a “big butt,” according to the federal lawsuit. In another incident, a high-ranking firefighter told Allen that she would have to figure out how to get her hair into her helmet even though he knew how “you people like to put all them things in your hair,” according to the lawsuit. Allen did not have anything in her hair at the time.

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