A Minneapolis fire captain has filed a lawsuit accusing the city’s fire department of failing to protect her from a commander who allegedly sexually harassed her.
Vicki Jung, who was among the first female firefighters in the city when she joined the department in 1994, charged that she faced retaliation after she reported the harassment, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this month in Hennepin County District Court.
The suit contends that Jung, who later rose to the rank of captain, was the victim of gender discrimination and retaliation after she reported being sexually harassed by Capt. Tom Fellegy in November 2014. The suit also alleges the infliction of “economic harm, loss of income and benefits, humiliation, mental and emotional distress, and other pain and suffering.”
A department spokesman Monday referred questions to an assistant city attorney, who declined to comment.
Jung is on medical leave from the department, said her attorney, Joni Thome, of Minneapolis. She declined to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks at least $50,000 in damages.
According to the lawsuit, Fellegy was accused of calling Jung into his office in November 2014, exposing himself, grabbing her wrist and repeatedly asking her: “What are you going to do, Vicki?”
Jung contends in the suit that department officials had fostered a working environment conducive to sexual harassment, with Fellegy’s inappropriate conduct earning him the nickname, “the Groper.”
Jung filed a complaint with the department, prompting Fellegy’s suspension, but it made her the target of verbal abuse from colleagues, including unnamed superiors, according to her suit.
Jung was subjected to “hostile and harassing treatment by co-workers,” who criticized her for reporting the incident, questioned her motives, and told her to consider what the complaint might do to Fellegy’s reputation, the suit said. Department officials did nothing to intervene on her behalf, the suit alleged.
In addition, Fellegy reportedly continued to engage Jung “in threats, harassed, intimated” and made her fear for her safety, the suit said.
Mark Lakosky, president of Local 82, the firefighters union, said the incident involving Fellegy had been “handled” internally but declined to comment further because of the pending litigation.
Last week, the City Council approved a $97,500 settlement, including attorney’s fees, in another lawsuit brought by Jung against the department that alleged gender discrimination and harassment, Thome said.
The attorney added that council members also agreed to pay Jung $135,000 to settle an outstanding workers’ compensation claim related to injuries she said she sustained on the job.
Jung and at least two other female firefighters, all of whom joined the department in the 1990s, have sued the city, claiming gender discrimination and retaliation for complaints of harassment.