NBC 10 I-Team: Retired Providence firefighter wins appeal

Retired Providence Fire Department Lt. Lori Franchina was awarded more than $800,000 by a federal jury in April. (WJAR)

Lori Franchina, a retired Providence Fire Dept. Lieutenant who sued the City of Providence for gender discrimination, won an appeal in the First Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday when judges upheld an earlier ruling in the District of Rhode Island and issued a scathing opinion criticizing the City and the fire department.

A spokesman for the mayor's office has said the city will not appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The judges ruled that the City must pay Franchina the more than $800,000 a jury previously awarded her in April 2016, plus legal costs incurred during the appeal. Jurors in the original case found that Franchina suffered sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation while one the job and included $100,000 in punitive damages.

“Sticks and stones may break some bones, but harassment can hurt forever,” Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson wrote in Thursday’s opinion. “ ‘C***,’ ‘b****,’ ‘lesbo’: all are but a smattering of the vile verbal assaults the plaintiff in this gender discrimination case, Lori Franchina, a former lieutenant firefighter, was regularly subjected to by members of the Providence Fire Department.”

“Because we decline to put out flames of the Department’s own making, we affirm [the lower court’s ruling],” Thompson wrote. “The abuse Lori Franchina suffered at the hands of the Providence Fire Department is nothing short of abhorrent.”

The NBC 10 I-Team reached out to the mayor’s office for a response. Spokesman Victor Morente said in an email, “The City of Providence remains committed to maintaining a workplace that is free from harassment and discrimination. The City takes any complaint seriously and investigates each matter. With regard to the case at hand, the City will not be appealing the recent ruling.”

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