Barre reaches $250K settlement with former firefighter - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Barre reaches $250K settlement with former firefighter

Posted: Updated:
Rachael Wyatt Rachael Wyatt
BARRE, Vt. -

It all started at the Barre City Fire Department. Former on-call firefighter and EMT-in-training, Rachael Wyatt, claimed she was harassed by three of her co-workers. Wyatt claimed she was fired for denying a sexual advance by a superior.

"It was very difficult. It was very hard to focus on obtaining my EMT status and my firefighter status working under those conditions," Wyatt told Channel 3.

Wyatt filed a complaint in December of 2011 detailing the types of harassment she said she faced on the job. She claimed Lt. Robert Howarth and his wife Cindy Howarth -- also an on call firefighter -- called her a "dumb blonde" and said she was "playing firefighter to find a husband."

Allegations against Deputy Chief Joe Aldsworth are more severe and sexual in nature. She claimed he said things like, "I saw you today. You are looking hot in those jeans," and "I'm jealous Nick has a pic of your breast. I want one. I won't show anyone." Other complaints are too graphic for television.

Barre City manager Steven MacKenzie says he's confident the city took the appropriate steps in this case. All employees will keep their jobs and Wyatt will receive a quarter-of-a-million dollar settlement. The city is not releasing other details.

"It doesn't say somebody has to be fired just because there's a claim of sexual harassment. I think, to a certain degree, sexual harassment is in the eye of the beholder," MacKenzie said.

The department responded to Wyatt's claims, saying there was "insufficient knowledge and therefore denied the claims."
     
Reporter Susie Steimle: Can you say without a shadow of a doubt that any of these employees did not do anything wrong?

Steven MacKenzie: I have no specific comment on that -- I think I'll just leave it at that.

As for the safety of women currently working at the department, both parties -- again -- agree to disagree.  "I don't know that they're okay, I have no idea," Wyatt said. "I don't know any of the women that work there. I think they have two new women working there. I can only hope that they are okay."

Reporter Susie Steimle: Can you say to the women working there today that they are in a non-hostile work environment and that they should feel safe?

Steven MacKenzie: Yes

MacKenzie said while a quarter million dollars may sound like a lot of money for this settlement, litigation threatened to be even more expensive. He also anticipated that a jury may be more sympathetic to a woman claiming sexual harassment and thought it best not to risk going to court.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Hinesburg man in custody after alleged shooting

    Hinesburg man in custody after alleged shooting

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:56 PM EDT2014-04-25 03:56:35 GMT
    Police say a 71-year-old man is in custody accused of shooting a female relative in the hand and chest around 8:30 Thursday evening.The incident happened on Richmond Road. The Hinesburg police chief says the man was arrested without incident. He and the victim are long time residents of Hinesburg. Detectives are still investigating what sparked the shooting. But the chief says neither the victim nor the shooter have had any interactions with police before this. The woman was taken to Fletche...More >>
    Police say a 71-year-old man is in custody accused of shooting a female relative in the hand and chest around 8:30 Thursday evening.The incident happened on Richmond Road. The Hinesburg police chief says the man was arrested without incident. He and the victim are long time residents of Hinesburg. Detectives are still investigating what sparked the shooting. But the chief says neither the victim nor the shooter have had any interactions with police before this. The woman was taken to Fletche...More >>
  • Springfield police search for armed robber

    Springfield police search for armed robber

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:00:49 GMT
    Springfield Police need your help to find an armed robber. They say yesterday a white man carrying a semi-automatic handgun held-up the Jenny Wren Café on Main Street. The suspect is described as 19-29 with a slight build and no taller than 5-foot-9.Police say he had a dark buzz cut, acne, and was wearing a red Ecko hooded sweatshirt.If you have any information on the robbery call Springfield Police.More >>
    Springfield Police need your help to find an armed robber. They say yesterday a white man carrying a semi-automatic handgun held-up the Jenny Wren Café on Main Street. The suspect is described as 19-29 with a slight build and no taller than 5-foot-9.Police say he had a dark buzz cut, acne, and was wearing a red Ecko hooded sweatshirt.If you have any information on the robbery call Springfield Police.More >>
  • Arlington man facing an animal cruelty

    Arlington man facing an animal cruelty

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:03 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:03:45 GMT
    An Arlington man is facing an animal cruelty charge after police say they found a dead dog on this property.It happened at 2760 VT Route 313. Troopers were at Rick Thompson's home investigating a burglary involving a wood burning stove when they discovered the dog. Thompson told police the dog died from kennel cough but a vet later determined the dog had been starved to death. The 47-year-old is due in court next month.More >>
    An Arlington man is facing an animal cruelty charge after police say they found a dead dog on this property.It happened at 2760 VT Route 313. Troopers were at Rick Thompson's home investigating a burglary involving a wood burning stove when they discovered the dog. Thompson told police the dog died from kennel cough but a vet later determined the dog had been starved to death. The 47-year-old is due in court next month.More >>
  • Senator Sanders pushes for better access to primary care

    Senator Sanders pushes for better access to primary care

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:06 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:06:48 GMT
    Senator Bernie Sanders is pushing for better access to primary care for patients in Vermont and across the country.More >>
    Senator Bernie Sanders is pushing for better access to primary care for patients in Vermont and across the country. More >>
  • Burlington School budget one step closer to re-vote

    Burlington School budget one step closer to re-vote

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:09 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:09:20 GMT
    A new Burlington School Budget is one step closer to a re-vote in the Community.The Burlington School board voted in favor of a 67.4 million dollar budget. Dozens of parents and voters turned out Thursday night for public testimony on their thoughts and concerns on the new more expensive budget. A recent audit uncovered a 2.5 million dollar deficit forcing the board to slash about 2.5 million dollars in programming and staff. This new budget is 600-thousand dollars MORE than what was voted do...More >>
    A new Burlington School Budget is one step closer to a re-vote in the Community.The Burlington School board voted in favor of a 67.4 million dollar budget. Dozens of parents and voters turned out Thursday night for public testimony on their thoughts and concerns on the new more expensive budget. A recent audit uncovered a 2.5 million dollar deficit forcing the board to slash about 2.5 million dollars in programming and staff. This new budget is 600-thousand dollars MORE than what was voted do...More >>
  • Robber hits the same bank twice?

    Robber hits the same bank twice?

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:01:18 GMT
    A security guard and bank manager at the People's United in St. Albans held a would-be robber until police arrived. And investigators think he is the same man who robbed the bank Monday.More >>
    A security guard and bank manager at the People's United in St. Albans held a would-be robber until police arrived. And investigators think he is the same man who robbed the bank Monday.More >>
  • Man shot by Vt. cop faces charges

    Man shot by Vt. cop faces charges

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:31 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:31:24 GMT
    A man shot by an officer inside the Bennington police station faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.More >>
    A man shot by an officer inside the Bennington police station faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.More >>
  • Man charged in Vt. teacher killing wants confession tossed

    Man charged in Vt. teacher killing wants confession tossed

    Thursday, April 24 2014 2:29 PM EDT2014-04-24 18:29:39 GMT
    A Vermont man charged with killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher is asking a judge to exclude from his upcoming trial a detailed confession he gave to police investigators.More >>
    A Vermont man charged with killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher is asking a judge to exclude from his upcoming trial a detailed confession he gave to police investigators.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.