Home News Female firefighter alleges sexual harassment, discrimination in suit

Female firefighter alleges sexual harassment, discrimination in suit


Trish Bennett, Editor

CIRCLEVILLE – A civil rights suit recently filed in United States District Court alleges sexual harassment and discrimination of a female employee of the Circleville Fire Department.

Amie L. Morningstar of Circleville is seeking damages in excess of $75,000 for actual and punitive damages in the complaint and a temporary restraining order and injunction until the case is resolved.

The suit names the City of Circleville, the Circleville Fire Department and Chief Marc Zingarelli as defendants to charges of gender discrimination; intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional stress; retaliation; equal pay violations; Ohio public policy tort; hostile work environment; and sexual harassment.

Gary Kenworthy, city law director, said Thursday the suit was delivered to the city this week, and it will likely be handled by attorneys for the city’s liability insurance company.

He did confirm the allegations in the lawsuit are the same as those from an internal complaint Morningstar filed earlier this year that led to Zingarelli being placed on administrative leave June 21 for the duration of an investigation by a third-party investigative firm.

Zingarelli was reinstated about eight weeks later on Aug. 14 when Mayor Don McIlroy reported, “The results of the investigation did not substantiate disciplinary action against the chief.”

Zingarelli served as interim chief of the department upon the retirement of Tim Tener on Jan. 31 until he was sworn in as Tener’s permanent replacement May 11. He had served in that position little more than a month before the internal complaint was filed.

Tener is not included as part of the complaint in the court document filed Dec. 11.

Morningstar’s suit alleges harassment and discrimination as far back as 2003 when she served as a volunteer for the Circleville Fire Department to present, including things like being passed over for full-time positions and promotions; unfair stipulations and restrictions not required of other firefighters and/or EMTs; tampering with her personal belongings and her professional gear; a hostile work environment and gender-based slurs; inappropriate sexual advances and harassment by a former office worker; and reassignment of shifts based upon personal bias, discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation, among others.

This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal