Lawsuit claims discrimination against female firefighters in Lincoln

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LINCOLN, Neb. — A Lincoln firefighter is suing the City of Lincoln, claiming she was discriminated against because of her gender.

According to the lawsuit, Amanda Benson said she was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her gender and was retaliated against for bringing complaints to her superiors.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Lancaster County District Court, and names the city, Mayor Beutler, Director of Public Safety Tom Casady, Human Resources Director Doug McDaniel, former Interim Fire Chief Tim Linke, retired Battalion Chief Leo Benes, Battalion Chief Eric Jones, and captains Darren Merryman and Shawn Mahler.

Benson was hired on with Lincoln Fire and Rescue in July of 2013.

According to the lawsuit, Benson said Station 8 Captain Mahler was visibly upset when learning Benson would be assigned to Station 8 in October of 2014, and was unwelcoming and discriminatory after she started.

In addition, Benson alleges that Mahler arbitrarily placed her on 18 months' observation, though he didn't require the same of male firefighters. The lawsuit also says Mahler discouraged Benson in 2014 from rotating onto the firetruck because "typically women are less mechanically-minded."

City Attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick said Tuesday he hasn't received the lawsuit. He says the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission already investigated Benson's case and didn't find evidence of discrimination or retaliation.