A lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of a woman who alleges that former Bakersfield Fire Chief Douglas Greener sexually assaulted and harassed her.
The plaintiff, a 38-year-old woman who worked at the Bakersfield Fire Department, is suing Greener along with the city of Bakersfield after she alleges she was forced to quit her job after she reported Greener’s behavior, according to the lawsuit.
Greener did not return a call for comment on Wednesday.
The woman said in fall 2017, a few years after she began working for the BFD as an accounting clerk, Greener began taking an interest in her, talking to her in the hallways or at her office.
He then asked if he could have her phone number so he could text her, to which the woman hesitantly agreed, according to the lawsuit.
Around December 2017, the plaintiff said Greener began giving her inappropriate compliments, such as “your legs are killing” and “wear shorter skirts and dresses.” The plaintiff said she also noticed Greener beginning to follow her around.
Court documents allege there were occasions where Greener would pretend to accidentally graze her breast with his hand, as well as intentionally bump into her and push his crotch onto her buttocks and lower back.
The suit says the plaintiff tried to avoid Greener as much as possible. However, Greener allegedly caught onto this and would make up excuses to try to get her to come to his office and would even wait for her outside the restroom.
As the employee continued to avoid Greener, court documents say he began to be more aggressive. The plaintiff said he would violently grope her buttocks and her hair with his hands and at one point also grabbed her arm hard, leaving bruises.
The lawsuit says Greener threatened her not to report the behavior, saying that no one would believe her over him anyway.
During one incident last March, court documents say Deputy Chief Ross Kelly walked in on Greener assaulting the employee but said nothing and continued walking. The woman said she went to Kelly and told him everything about Greener’s behavior.
The lawsuit says Kelly reported Greener’s actions to Human Resources Manager Lisa McGranahan. McGranahan allegedly started an investigation and interviewed employees in the department.
The plaintiff was transferred to work out of the Human Resources Department during the investigation, after which she said McGranahan began questioning her, asking if she had ever met Greener outside of work, whether she had gone to a hotel or his residence, according to court documents.
When she asked if McGranahan had recovered any texts or emails from Greener relating to the assaults or had found any other evidence of that, the plaintiff said the answer was no. She began to feel that McGranahan was protecting Greener, according to the lawsuit.
In May, McGranahan allegedly told the plaintiff that she would be going back to the fire department and that she would have to work again in the same building as Greener.
According to the lawsuit, the woman has lost 40 pounds due to extreme stress and anxiety and that her doctor put her on disability leave. She was advised by her doctor and therapist not to return to work at the department, according to the court documents.
“Plaintiff has had a lack of appetite for the majority of 2018 and has trouble getting out of bed and showering,” the lawsuit says. “Plaintiff has panic attacks when thinking about returning to work and how she will be treated, especially by HR after how they treated her and belittled her after she reported the harassment.”
In January, the lawsuit said she felt forced to quit her job. The lawsuit is now seeking economic damages for the plaintiff’s loss of pay and benefits as well as her psychological and physical distress.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Heather Conniff with the law firm Shegerian Conniff, based in El Segundo, declined to comment.