Female paramedics file 2nd suit against Chicago Fire Dept.

A dozen female paramedics allege the department devised two new physical agility tests that are biased against women

By EMS1 Staff

CHICAGO — Female paramedics are suing the Chicago Fire Department following a court ruling, stating the department’s physical performance test discriminated against women. 

The Sept. 20 unanimous decision by the three-judge panel challenged the relevance of some aspects of the test — which included a timed step test and a leg strength test — when hiring a paramedic.

A dozen female paramedics filed a second lawsuit Oct. 28, alleging the department devised two new physical agility tests that are equally as biased against women, reported the Chicago Sun Times

In one test, candidates must go up six flights of stairs with a 250-pound dummy in eight minutes or less. The second test requires candidates to step on and off an 18-inch-high box to the beat of a metronome for two minutes without missing a beat, while holding 25-pound weights in each hand. 

Female paramedics are seeking back pay and other measures to compensate for the alleged discrimination. 

“Financially, it has ruined me,” paramedic Shannon Markley, 42, said. “I had to move into the city. I took an $80,000 loss on my house only to come out with no job … This was my dream job. It’s all I wanted for a long time and it’s been crushed.”

Another paramedic, Jamie Snevely, 33, said she was fired a day before she was scheduled to graduate from the fire academy. Although the termination was rescinded and Snevely was given six additional weeks of training and a re-test, she was stopped during the test and told she was done.

“It was women they did not want for the most part,” Snevely said. “Five out of the seven of us women in Alpha class got fired and the other two were cheated through. I literally watched one of the instructors stop his stopwatch and give it to her. She had relatives and connections into the Fire Department.”

Several of the paramedics claimed they heard Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago state the stair test was “not realistic.”

The department’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

“We cannot comment on the pending litigation, however, the Fire Department does not condone discrimination of any kind, and no longer uses the physical abilities test that are included in this suit,” City Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.

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