Female fire marshal claims discrimination in suit against Texas City

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Sep. 30, 2010, 11:00am

GALVESTON - Alleging race and gender were factors in her termination from the Texas City Fire Department, a Galveston County woman has filed suit against the city.

Kelly Rothrock's lawsuit, filed Sept. 15 in Galveston County District Court, argues that the city consistently failed to properly address the discrimination she allegedly experienced under Fire Chief Joseph Gorman.

Gorman fired Rothrock in October 2008 while she was on sick leave, court papers say.

The plaintiff worked in various positions for the fire department since June 2001 and claims she had a spotless performance record. At one time, she was only one of two female fire marshals in the country.

Rothrock, who is African American, says she was a constant target of gender-based mistreatment since she was hired as an entry-level firefighter. With the help of then-Fire Chief Gerald Grimm, the plaintiff sought the resolve the issues. Grimm retired in late 2007 and Rothrock met Gorman during candidate recruitment.

She claims Gorman acted negatively toward her, and told her the behavior would continue when he became chief in January 2008, the suit says.

Rothrock stepped down from her position as fire marshal and returned to her previous role as captain when Gorman took over the department.

She describes her stint working for Gorman as "a living hell," and said the chief punished her more than her white male coworkers.

The plaintiff went on long-term sick leave in April 2008 to recover from job stress. The defendant changed the sick leave policy around that time, adversely affecting Rothrock, the suit says.

She filed one last complaint to address the gender and racial discrimination prior to being let go.

Rothrock seeks unspecified monetary damages.

The Law Offices of Harold C. Dutton Jr. is representing her, and Galveston County 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss is presiding over the case.

Case No. 10-cv-3416

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