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After Alleging Sex Harassment, Suburban Firefighter Suspended

COUNTRY CLUB HILLS (CBS) -- The first female firefighter ever hired in Country Club Hills has been suspended--a move that she says is just the latest retaliation for her lawsuit aimed at ending years of alleged sexual harassment.

Dena Bystrzycki has been a Country Club Hills firefighter for 17 years.

Just today she was suspended, she says, for complaining too loud about sexual harassment.

"They're trying to take my career, my livelihood," she told CBS 2's Derrick Blakley. "They're trying to take everything from me."

There was trouble, she says, almost from the time she signed up.

Firefighters once allegedly broke down the shower door, with her inside.

"Then the chief handed me a towel and said, 'Relax, it's firehouse fun,' '' Bystrzycki said.

In a deposition, supervisors admitted firefighters watch porn while on the clock.

When she filed a discrimination lawsuit in 2012, after 14 years on the job, "not only did it have no effect on correcting the behavior, it just made it worse," said Bystrzycki's attorney, Dana Kurtz.

An example: A license plate placed on her locker the read "Beaver Creek."

"Really? What are you trying to say?" Bystrezycki said. "You're just being derogatory toward females."

The somebody placed a doll on her locker, a girl with her hands over the mouth.

"I had been told repeatedly to drop the lawsuit, and then I come in and see this doll there."

Last week, the city issued a memo asking fire department personnel for "any information" regarding porn-watching in the firehouse.

In an e-mail, Bystrzycki offered this: "You could start with those people who have admitted to it."

That, apparently, got her suspended.

"Clearly, the guys in power there, don't want it to change," Kurtz said.

Bystrzycki also charges she's been improperly denied promotions.

Despite all that, her most recent performance evaluation was outstanding.

The original suit was filed in 2012. A trial is now scheduled for Oct. 5.

A city official says the municipal government expects to prevail in court.

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