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Jury awards former Palm Beach County Fire Rescue academy employee nearly $750K following lawsuit

[County] paying for the sins of the prior fire rescue administration,' attorney says
Posted at 3:59 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 17:27:51-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A jury returned a nearly $750,000 verdict for a former Palm Beach County firefighter recruit who claimed retaliation for an injury.

RELATED: Lawsuits claim discrimination, harassment and retaliation at Palm Beach County Fire Rescue

Sharon Wilson's lawsuit was one of at least three claiming harassment, discrimination and retaliation that led to the resignation of Fire Chief Jeff Collins in January 2018.

Contact 5 reported on the lawsuits when they were filed four years ago.

The jury on Monday found that the fire rescue department discriminated against the plaintiff because of her sex, awarding her $500,000 for emotional pain and mental anguish and $243,342 in lost pay.

Isidro Garcia, the attorney who represented Wilson, said the jury vindicated his client.

"The county is paying for the sins of the prior Fire Rescue administration," he said.

Garcia argued to the jury that there was a boys' club at the academy where women were subject to open discrimination.

Wilson was hired in April 2015 and placed in the Fire Rescue Recruit Academy as a probationary firefighter. She fractured her wrist and then started getting written up for made-up violations, according to her lawsuit.

She was eventually forced to resign under threat.

Garcia also represents a former fire captain who claims she was sexually harassed.

When asked for comment, the county attorney's office said it is now exploring its legal options.