Daly City's only female firefighter claims she suffered retaliation from her superiors after complaining about inadequate bathroom facilities at her firehouse, according to a lawsuit.
Barbara Lewicki, 50, says she had to walk across the men's sleeping area in her station -- where firefighters were sometimes nude or in their underwear -- to get to the women's restroom. Although that bathroom was reserved for women, her male colleagues often used it. The bathroom had no lock.
"The male firefighters continuously left plaintiff's bathroom in a grotesque condition, which included the presence of unflushed urine," according to the suit filed June 16 in San Mateo County Superior Court.
Daly City denies Lewicki's claims and plans to fight them.
"We, of course, dispute her allegations," said Kathy Maylin, an attorney hired to defend the city. "Unfortunately, that's all I can say at this time."
Lewicki is a fire captain who has been with the department since July 1, 1986, but most of her allegations center on the past two years. The Montara resident said the problems started when she complained about the bathroom. She is seeking unspecified damages and wants a jury trial.
Following her complaints, Lewicki said she was singled out for wearing a worn uniform while other firefighters in older attire faced no discipline.
Her bosses forced her to send daily emails whose content replicated the information in other paperwork. She was also accused of insubordination for unstated reasons on one occasion, according to the suit.
The trouble culminated in Lewicki's being placed on paid leave Aug. 29, 2010, after her superiors questioned her fitness for duty. In order to return she must complete a doctor's evaluation, but the physician has asked for her lifetime medical records, the suit says.
"She knew when they got those records they would find something that made her unfit," said Lewicki's attorney Angela Alioto. "She feels they are looking for anything to fire her."
Lewicki has declined to turn over the records and maintains she is fit for duty. She remains on paid leave.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335.