Mokena ex-firefighter alleges homophobia, harassment in lawsuit

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(Image by succo from Pixabay)

MOKENA — Justin Bakker, a former firefighter and paramedic with the Mokena Fire District, has filed a lawsuit against the district alleging sex discrimination and sex harassment, and violations of the fire district’s company policy and violations to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Mokena Patch reported that court documents show the first incidents starting in Dec. 2015, while talking with another firefigher about renting his home. The firefighter reportedly said “Well, at least someone will be getting some action in the house. Well at least someone will be getting some action with a girl, at least.”

The next incident, according to Patch, was as department members were talking Mokena’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 2018 and talking about shirts the members wore for “cancer month and supporting the troops.” Court documents state that William Haas, president of the board of trustees for the fire district, then spoke to Bakker in front of the other firefighters and told him he was going to get Bakker a rainbow-colored shirt and that “[Bakker] would wear it with all kinds of pride.”

After a third incident, Bakker told his supervisor he was being targeted. The incidents were repeatedly calling into question his sexual orientation, Patch reported, and the lawsuit states Bakker is heterosexual. Each time he has complained to his union.

The news site said Bakker is seeking a trial by jury on the lawsuit. He has left his employment with the district.

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