Sex harassment lawsuit against suburban fire department set to go to trial

With the eyes of the nation focused on the Kavanaugh hearings in Washington, another #MeToo moment is about to unfold in a Chicago courtroom.

Three years ago, we first told you about a lawsuit by a female firefighter alleging sexual harassment in Country Club Hills, including firefighters watching porn.

Next week, that lawsuit goes to trial at the Daley Center.

"Wrongs need to be righted. And people need to answer for their wrongdoing,” said Dena Lewis.

Lewis has been a Country Club Hills firefighter since 1998, but she's been on paid leave for the past three years after filing a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the village.

Lewis says she was passed over for a promotion after she complained about firefighters watching porn in the firehouse, which she says was epidemic.

"I can tell you it's on. It's on all the time. It's on all night,” Lewis said.

Initially, the Country Club Hills Fire Department denied it was even happening. But when Lewis' lawyer deposed firefighters under oath, they told the truth.

Lawyer: "Did you ever watch that kind of material at the station?"

Firefighter: "I have."

Lawyer: "As a Lieutenant?"

Firefighter: "Yeah, as a Lieutenant."

Since our last story, the village has been sanctioned by the court for destroying evidence before Lewis' legal team could look at the computers.

"They ran what's called disc cleanup, disc wipe to try to wipe out the internet history and the evidence,” said attorney Dana Kurtz.

After Lewis complained that some questions on a promotional test were written by the father of one of the men taking the test, she found a doll with its hands over its mouth over her locker.

Lewis' lawsuit goes to trial on Monday at the Daley Center. A spokesman for the village had no comment.

"The good old boys club needs to be put to an end,” Lewis said. “You need to treat your employees right. Respond to your employees right when there's such a level of wrongdoing.”

Records show three firefighters were suspended last fall for watching porn at the firehouse. But Lewis' lawyer says the village refuses to confirm whether any disciplinary action was ever taken.