Nixa's sole female firefighter files federal lawsuit for sexual harassment, retaliation

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NIXA, Mo. -- The Nixa Fire Protection District is under fire for what one firefighter says is sexual harassment, gender discrimination, a hostile work environment and retaliation.

Picture: MGN

A lawsuit has been filed in federal court by Nixa's only female firefighter, Dana Osborne.

The 21 page lawsuit is filled with shocking allegations about what she says is some firefighters behavior while on the job, and some in authority reportedly knowing about the behavior and not putting a stop to it.

"We're talking fellow officers (firefighters) watching pornographic videos on their cell phones at the dinner table, and showing her pictures of naked women and making comments about how she looks in a uniform," said Osborne's attorney Heidi Sleper.

Most of the accusations contained in the lawsuit are too graphic for TV.

Firefighter Osborne was hired in August 2017. Within 8 months, her formal complaints started coming in, almost monthly, to her superiors.

"They've been aware of what was going on and they still haven't done anything to stop it," said Sleper.

Osborne is suing Nixa Fire as a whole, the board of directors, and some of the leadership and other firefighters in the district.

Most of her complaints were about her captain, Captain Garrick Zoeller.

"The comment and behavior was made by her captain and she was not protected by the assistant chief, she was not protected by the chief."

Osborne says she was denied training opportunities, and critiqued differently than the men-- in an environment that her attorney says shows a systemic problem.

Osborne and some of others named in the suit still work for the Nixa Fire District. Next, the entity has a window of time to respond to the lawsuit, so they can start the legal process.

KY3 News asked Nixa Fire Protection District for comment, and they sent us to their attorney in Jefferson City. At publishing time, we have not heard back from him. Check back here or on-air for any updates.