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Firefighter Suing El Dorado Hills Fire Department Shares Story

NATOMAS -- Firefighter Lisa Marie Mason, who has filed a federal lawsuit against the El Dorado Hills Fire Department, is sharing her story with FOX40.

"When I came forward in May, there was no 'Me Too,'" Mason said Thursday. "I wasn't asking for special treatment -- just decency."

The lawsuit alleges sexual discrimination, harassment, retaliation and assault. Fire Chief Dave Roberts is accused of fostering an environment of sexism and failed to investigate to investigate her complaints.

Her first complaint was made in 2007 -- an equal employment opportunity claim.

She says that out of her all-male class, she was the only firefighter denied rotation at other firehouses, a career move that provides more diverse training.

"That's been probably the base reason for all of my denials of training, advancement, education and treatment," Mason said.

Mason says ever since, she's been seen as a complainer. When she told her colleagues she didn't like their inappropriate jokes, she says they asked her if she was on her period.

"And then I realized these aren't jokes. These are actually affecting my career and my livelihood," she told FOX40 "I'm a single mom."

Mason said the shaming and humiliation reached a new low in 2016 -- when she says Chief RobertsĀ hit her on the head. She had just been promoted to an engineer.

"My boots were shined, I was in my full class B at like 6:45, I had a great attitude, smiling, ready to go, proud to serve, and the next thing you know, I get hit," Mason said. "And the only thing I could think of was, if I was a guy, we would be fighting right now."

Roberts announced his plans to retire this week. He spoke to FOX40 on Wednesday but would not discuss the lawsuit. It was due to be discussed in his annual performance review Thursday, a closed meeting.

Roberts said the lawsuit had nothing to do with his decision to retire -- with about 18 months left on his contract.

Meanwhile, Mason's attorneys say Roberts' timing should be telling.

"He's very lucky that he's at the end of his career and he can retire with full pension," Mason said.

She's worried that maybe that won't be the case for her.