MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – The city of Mobile has launched an investigation after a firefighter who works for Mobile Fire-Rescue claimed she was inappropriately touched by a fire captain.
The alleged incident was reported in December, according to Lawrence Battiste, director of Public Safety for the city of Mobile.
The firefighter alleged she was inappropriately touched while working at one of the Mobile Fire-Rescue stations. Battiste said the investigation is ongoing and so far, no one has been placed on administrative leave. He says the city is taking this allegation seriously.
“Sexual harassment, whether it’s between two equals or whether it’s between someone that is superior to the other, is unacceptable,” Battiste said.
The allegation is being investigated by the city and OPR, also known as the Office of Professional Responsibility, which is a branch of the United States Department of Justice.
Despite the allegation coming to light in recent weeks, Battiste doesn’t think this will have a negative impact on recruiting people to work for the fire department.
“I don’t think it creates challenges in recruiting female applicants or applicants of any other gender to become firefighters or law enforcement officers. The key here is if you get the allegation, conduct the appropriate kind of investigation that is associated with the complaint and then take the appropriate action,” he said.
Battiste said sexual harassment of any kind will not be tolerated within any branch of the city.
“Every allegation of sexual harassment will always be investigated with the vigor that it should be. We treat it as though it happened until we are able to disprove it did not happen,” he said.
There’s been talk that some firefighters have resigned because of this complaint, but Battiste said that’s not true.
“That is an unfounded allegation that someone has resigned because of sexual harassment. We may have had some resignations, but I am not aware of anyone that has resigned specifically because of sexual harassment,” he said.
The city believes the investigation will be complete within the next few weeks.
Right now, they say they are interviewing the victim.
They say as soon as their investigation is complete, they’ll be taking any disciplinary action they believe is necessary.
Editor’s note: WKRG will not be publishing what Mobile Fire-Rescue station the alleged incident took place at in order to protect the victim’s identity.