Middletown Fire Captain suing her own department - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Middletown Fire Captain suing her own department

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Natalie Taylor Natalie Taylor

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Middletown firefighter is suing her own department.

Captain Natalie Taylor has been with the Middletown Fire Protection District for 24 years. She started with the department in 1991 as a Firefighter Explorer, and later became employed by the department in Oct. 1996.

Captain Taylor says on Nov. 20, 2014, she attended an officer's training session that was meant to improve leadership and communication skills.

During that meeting, she says the instructor brought up concerns and frustrations that Captain Taylor had voiced prior to the meeting.

The instructor allowed Taylor to speak about the concerns to those in attendance.

"There was nothing that I said to where I was addressing anyone specifically or calling anyone names, but after that meeting the story turned different," said Captain Natalie Taylor.

Taylor says she let her frustrations out, and soon after she was called in for a meeting with the Assistant Chief and her Major, where she says she was grilled for 2-1/2 hours about the matter.

"The meeting started out with, 'We are so disappointed by you, we are so embarrassed by what you've done by saying these things with an outside instructor. This is unprofessional, this is unacceptable.' For 2-1/2 hours I was subjected to that," said Captain Taylor.

Weeks later, Fire Chief Jeff Riddle charged her with misconduct.

"I was immediately suspended at 8:00 at night, separated from my fire crew, immediately locked out of my email with the fire department -- and that has never occurred with a male captain that has gone through disciplinary before," Taylor said.

Taylor was offered three choices: Self-demote from Captain to firefighter, resign from the fire department, or proceed to a hearing.

Taylor later won a disciplinary hearing, and was awarded back pay for the shifts that she was suspended from without pay. She was returned to her position as Captain.

Since that time, Taylor says she has been subjected to random, unnecessary reassignments among the three stations with Middletown Fire Protection District, all within a nine-month period. She says male Captains were not subjected to such random reassignments.

Taylor has now sued for gender discrimination.

She says her intention is to continue serving her community and the fire department.

Casey Stansbury, attorney for the fire district, says "Out of respect for the judge and the civil justice system, no comment will be made at this time."

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