Federal Judge Orders Fired Female Firefighter Must be Rehired

A fired New Smyrna Beach (FL) female firefighter awarded $444,000 in her sexual harassment lawsuit against the city must also be rehired by the end of next month, reports The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

District Judge Roy B. Dalton Jr. said in his order filed Friday that the city has until July 31 to reinstate Melissa Ignasiak Smith to her former position with the same seniority, pay and benefits.

“I am over the moon,” said Smith, 35, by telephone. “We have been fighting five years for this.”

The judge also ordered Fire Department personnel to take anti-discrimination training.

Smith’s Fort Lauderdale-based attorney William Amlong said the order represents the second half of the award Smith expected from her July 2011 lawsuit. Her suit claimed she suffered sexual harassment at the hands of lieutenants and chiefs of the New Smyrna Beach Fire Department. She then endured retaliation and was eventually fired when she complained about the treatment, the suit claims.

“There are no words to describe the feeling that the jury found the city guilty, and the judge also found they violated the law,” Smith said.

A jury of seven women and one man deliberated for two hours before awarding the monetary damages for back wages and emotional distress to Smith on Feb. 26.

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