A deputy fire chief from Phoenix, Arizona has filed a rather unusual sexual harrassment suit: Deputy Chief Frank Cheatham claims that he was harassed by members and retaliated against by the department because he reprimanded officers who allowed sexually inappropriate drawings and items to be displayed in a fire station.
The Cheatham Penis Pasta Lawsuit
According to FireLaw, the events comprising the lawsuit began in 2009 when Chief Cheatham observed “several inappropriate, sexually suggestive drawings and items—specifically, two depictions of a penis and testicles—openly displayed in the workplace at Fire Station 1.” At the time Chief Cheatham was the South Side Shift commander, in charge of roughly 440 firefighters. He “admonished the supervisors at Fire Station 1 that such drawings were inappropriate and would not be tolerated in the future.”
Soon after, Chief Cheatham was asked to refrain from joining the firefighters of Fire Station 1 for meals. He was also, according to FireLaw, informed “the firefighters at Fire Station 1 would never trust Chief Cheatham’s assistant again and considered him to be a spy for Chief Cheatham.”
Cheatham, in the lawsuit documents, then describes incidents of harassment that included a t-shirt bearing a drawing of a penis and testicles being “draped over a piece of gym equipment” while he was working out, rumors that he would be removed from his position, and the receipt of “a large brown envelope in interoffice mail containing two small pieces of pasta, one of which resembled a penis and the other of which resembled a vagina. … The piece of pasta resembling a vagina had Chief Cheatham’s first name (“Frank”) written on it.”
Cheatham Demoted After Penis Pasta Incident
FireLaw reported, “In March, 2010 Chief Cheatham was involuntarily transferred to the safety division, an assignment that he referred to as having “less favorable working hours … than the hours that he enjoyed in his position as Deputy Fire Chief Shift Commander of South Shift Command… and far less prestige…”
In the complaint, Chief Cheatham claims the involuntary transfer is, in fact, a demotion and occurred as a retaliatory act. He stated that he has repeatedly informed “authorities” with the City of Phoenix of the harassment and retaliation he has been subjected to, and asserts the “City failed to properly investigate his complaints, stop the harassment, and remediate the retaliation.”
According to AZCentral, City officials have declined to comment on the lawsuit.