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Published: Saturday, 4/27/2002

Springfield paramedic files sex-bias lawsuit

An Oregon woman has filed a sex-discrimination lawsuit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court against the Springfield Township trustees and fire chief.

Heidi Hess, a paramedic-firefighter with the township fire and EMS, claims she was wrongfully denied a promotion to lieutenant and that four men less qualified were promoted.

According to the suit, which was filed Thursday, Ms. Hess, 43, a member of the department since 1992, filed a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission after she was not promoted in February, 2001.

The state panel found probable cause that Ms. Hess was not given the job because she is a woman. However, it found no basis for a discrimination complaint because of her age or her religion, which is Judaism.

The township promoted four men, then ages 28, 38, 39, and 40, to lieutenant. The lawsuit claims the men were less qualified than Ms. Hess. Ms. Hess is asking that she be promoted to lieutenant and receive compensation for the wages, pension benefits, and seniority she would have received had she attained the position.

Fire Chief Ray Feeney, Jr., said he cooperated with the Civil Rights Commission inquiry into the discrimination investigation.

“We had sent them information regarding what we had done in the interviews. I haven't heard much else from anybody. Basically, she didn't have the experience that the four other persons have in fire fighting, “ said Chief Feeney.

Trustees Susan Meek, Marilyn Yoder, and Robert Bethel could not be reached for comment.

R. Michael Frank, an attorney for Ms. Hess, said his client has 22 years of experience, including three years as a firefighter with Perrysburg Township. Mr. Frank said one of the men promoted over his client was a probationary employee when he was named lieutenant. He said an assistant fire chief with the department had less experience as a firefighter than Ms. Hess when he was promoted.

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