ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — A day after KRQE News 13 exposed a female Albuquerque firefighter’s sexual harassment claims against her male coworkers, the department said they’re investigating her claims.
“They never investigated it until Channel 13 began their investigation and went on the news last night to point out what happened in this new incident,” said her attorney, Michael Cadigan.
On Parker’s first day of a new assignment at Station 16 on Wednesday, she found a camera in her room and a piece of fruit in the shape of female sex organs.
Albuquerque Fire Department’s Chief wouldn’t go on camera for an interview, but sent a statement saying they take allegations of harassment “very seriously.”
“When allegations are made, an independent investigation is conducted to fully review the validity of the claim and administrative handling,” he said. “The claims made my Ms. Parker’s attorney will be fully investigated as part of her lawsuit against the department.”
But the lawsuit lists several prior claims that were not independently investigated, according to her attorney.
It describes a workplace where women aren’t welcome, including allegations that firefighters frequently watched porn in her presence and attached it to her locker; touched and groped her; and watched her shower from a skylight.
“I’m just trying to make a safe workplace for my daughter or your daughter, if she wants to be a firefighter,” she told KRQE News 13.
In a deposition obtained by KRQE News 13, Karl Isselhard, Deputy Chief of human resources, said he didn’t know of any firefighter who was punished for any of Parker’s sexual harassment allegations.
“These are criminal acts going on, on taxpayer time, and fire department management has done nothing about it,” Cadigan said.
AFD denied Parker’s request for paid leave until the investigation into Thursday’s incident is finished.
Instead, they said she could work at a different fire house or the administrative offices with Chief Dave Downey, who is identified in the lawsuit as someone who made a sexual comment toward her.
“I don’t know how I will be received by field personnel and if I will be protected in a fire. But I also feel like working at admin would expose me to continued problems,” she wrote in an email to human resources on Thursday.
She added that she cannot afford to take sick time or lose her job, so she will report to a new firehouse on Friday.