Attorneys for Los Angeles County state in new court papers that a lawsuit filed by a former probationary firefighter, alleging she experienced gender discrimination from her first day on the job, that supervisors and colleagues called her a “dumb blonde” and that she was wrongfully terminated in 2022, should be dismissed.
Plaintiff Kourtney Kuder‘s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges discrimination, harassment and failure to prevent discrimination and harassment. She seeks compensatory damages and a court order reinstating her to her former position.
But in a nine-page answer filed this week with Judge Douglas W. Stern, county attorneys deny any liability on the part of the county and state that Kuder’s claims are barred by the statute of limitations. The lawyers also maintain that any actions taken regarding Kuder were done for “legitimate non-discriminatory and non-harassing” reasons and that some or all of her allegations belong in the workers’ compensation arena rather than the courts. As a result, Kuder’s entire case should be dismissed and the plaintiff should “take nothing by way of the complaint,” the county attorneys further argue in their court papers.
According to her lawsuit filed May 1, Kuder was one of five women when she started her firefighter academy training in June 2021 and one of four females when she graduated in October of that year. A female fire captain who is now a battalion chief said at the time that the class was one of the strongest group of females the academy had produced in some time, according to the suit.
“With these parting words at graduation, plaintiff was excited to start working at a fire station and pursue her calling,” the suit states.
But to Kuder’s dismay, during her first shift at an Acton station, a male engineer refused to report to work that day, saying he would not work with women, the suit states. But rather than “address the blatant sexist comments and attitude,” the county transferred Kuder to a station in Santa Clarita, the suit states.
“Within the first week of arriving, plaintiff recalls co-workers remarked about her body to the point of making her feel uncomfortable,” according to the suit, which further states that she was the only female at the station and worried that complaining would give her a reputation as someone who frequently griped. Rather than being given proper training and guidance in Santa Clarita, Kuder was “simply told to stop making excuses for not being able to complete a task,” even though a male new firefighter who sought the same help was assisted, the suit states.
Some of Kuder’s supervisors and colleagues referred to her as a “dumb blonde” and she was told that she “did not know anything,” the suit states. Kuder was subsequently transferred to a Glendora station, where the alleged disparate treatment continued and false rumors circulated that she was a former porn star, according to her suit.
Kuder was discharged last August six weeks shy of finishing her probation. Management told her that the decision stemmed from off-duty conduct in May 2022 in which she allegedly broke a woman’s glasses and cell phone, argued later with police, and failed to report the incident to her superiors, the suit states.
Kuder continues to suffer from emotional distress, anxiety and depression and she also has incurred expenses for health care and psychological counseling, the suit states.