WESTBROOK – The Westbrook City Council is slated to vote Monday night on separate settlement agreements with two female city firefighters who in 2008 accused the Westbrook Fire Department of sexual harassment.

“Approving firefighter settlement agreement,” is listed twice among the items on the agenda for the council’s meeting, which is to begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 30 in Room 114 at Westbrook High School.

City officials on Friday declined to identify the firefighters involved in the settlements or release any details such as how much money the city might pay them until the council meeting on Monday. However, a source told the American Journal that the settlements will be with two female firefighters who had a lawsuit pending against the city regarding their claims of sexual harassment: Lisa Theberge and Kathy Rogers.

Mayor Colleen Hilton and City Council President Brendan Rielly said Friday that they could not comment on the settlements because they involve personnel. The settlements will remain confidential until the council’s meeting on Monday, they said.

The items are on for preliminary, first reading approval on Monday.

Rebecca Webber, attorney for the two women, declined to comment on Friday.

Theberge and Rogers went on paid administrative leave in September 2008 due to what they said was a hostile work environment at the fire department.

Their complaints led to a city investigation and the punishment of seven firefighters in December 2008.

Then, at her inauguration this year, Hilton vowed to re-invent the fire department. She did not re-appoint the fire chief and the deputy chief.

The city in March hired two temporary leadership consultants – Chief Michael Pardue and Deputy Fire Chief Sandra Hillsgrove – to head the department, and all fire department personnel underwent training in harassment prevention and communication.

The city also said its plan was to create an environment in the department that would enable Theberge and Rogers to come back to work.

Theberge returned to the job in June, just as the harassment prevention training was wrapping up.

It was not clear Friday what Rogers’ employment status is.

Rogers has already twice settled with the city over complaints of harassment and discrimination, in 1994 and again 10 years later, in 2004. At that time, she received $76,000 through five years, as well as 540 hours of sick time and $39,000 for legal fees.


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