DENVER (CBS4) – A federal jury ruled in favor of former Denver Fire Capt. Colley Fisher Wednesday afternoon, agreeing her 2015 termination was retaliation for her filing two sexual discrimination complaints against the department.
“This is a big win for women in the Denver Fire Department and hopefully women in the City and County of Denver,” Fisher told CBS4 shortly after the verdict.
Her attorney, John Culver, said the jury awarded Fisher $146,000 in emotional distress damages, but the case could end up costing the city closer to $1 million when issues of front and back pay and attorneys fees are decided at a later date.
“This is a complete win,” said Culver. He said the City of Denver “didn’t offer one red cent. They lost. This is a federal civil rights violation.”
Fisher was with the Denver Fire Department for 23 years, rising to the rank of captain. Fisher contended that male employees received better treatment than females. In 2014, Fisher lodged complaints against two male colleagues “for harassment and creating a hostile work environment,” according to her lawsuit.
In 2015, DFD terminated Fisher which she said was “because of her gender and in retaliation for her complaints of discrimination and retaliation.”
The jury heard a week of testimony. They deliberated for approximately a day and a half before delivering their verdict.
“I hope this changes the culture of the Denver Fire Department,” said Fisher. “It is not about the money. It is about defeating corruption, lies, and power.”
UPDATE: The City of Denver announced it will appeal the federal jury verdict in the Colley Fisher case.
Statement from DFD: “The City respects the jury’s verdict and genuinely appreciates how much time the jurors devoted to this case. Nevertheless, we disagree with the verdict and plan to file an appeal. The Denver Fire Department is committed to maintaining a work environment that is inclusive, professional and free of any form of retaliation, and believes that it fulfilled that commitment with respect to Mrs. Fisher.”