The plaintiff was hired as a probationary firefighter in August 2019 by South Snohomish County Fire and Rescue. As part of training and as a probationary firefighter, he was required to attend the South County Fire Training Academy, which was operated by a regional collaboration of fire departments. During training, the plaintiff was repeatedly sexually harassed by one of his instructors Chau Nguyen, who used his position of power to sexually harass him.
According to the complaint, which was filed in the Superior Court for Snohomish County, the plaintiff is aware of numerous probationary firefighters who suffered harassment by Nguyen both before and after his harassment. Despite that, Nguyen was allowed to remain in his position of power until he resigned from the department in January 2022. Following Nguyen’s resignation, the department abandoned its investigation into his misconduct.
“This is about those people who were in positions of power and had the ability to ensure that employees, subordinates and probationary firefighters were not sexually harassed, that they had a safe working environment,” Mallory said. “And they, in our estimation, badly breached that duty.”
The lawsuit alleges that the departments knew or should have known of the improper conduct but failed to take reasonable corrective action to address Nguyen’s inappropriate behavior. This negligence led to a hostile work environment and emotional distress for the plaintiff, who is demanding a trial by jury.
Media coverage about the lawsuit:
Lawsuit: Everett firefighter sexually harassed numerous recruits, HeraldNet, 12/5/22