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Montana Firefighter Files Wrongful Termination Claim for Alleged Sexism

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  • A Montana firefighter was repeatedly reprimanded by her supervisors for her social media posts, which often depict her working out in leggings and a sports bra.  
  • Presley Pritchard, 27, refused to take down her posts after the department asked because there was no official social media policy in place.
  • Pritchard was eventually fired and in December, she filed a wrongful termination claim.
  • She argued that her content is similar to that of her male colleagues and said she was singled out based on her gender. 

Terminated for Social Media Activity

A former Montana firefighter filed a wrongful termination claim for alleged discrimination after she was fired for her social media posts. 

In an interview with Vice published last week, Presley Pritchard said her posts were criticized as racy and provocative, and she believes that she was singled out and treated unfairly due to her gender. 

The 27-year-old firefighter paramedic previously worked at Evergreen Fire Rescue in Kalispell, Montana. She was let go from the department after she refused to take down some of her posts, despite the absence of an official social media policy.

Pritchard’s Instagram content reaches over 160,000 followers, and largely consists of photos and videos of the fitness influencer working out in the gym, wearing leggings, sports bras, and tank tops. Other pictures feature Pritchard in her firefighter uniform and gear, accompanied by inspirational, uplifting captions.

View this post on Instagram

Where God guides, He provides. – ✨ I’m just in awe thinking about the past year; the good, the bad, the triumphs.. and the losses. By far my biggest lesson this year has been, “Don’t stress yourself out.” Things will fall into place. Hold on and keep the faith. Don’t allow yourself to become disheartened by the people that seem to keep moving ahead while you feel the most stagnant. There’s always going to be someone better, prettier, smarter, and stronger. Someone who gets the job you wanted or the spot on the team. You may just have to work a littler harder and a little longer than others. – Don’t use your energy to worry, use your energy to believe God has everything worked out. . . . . . . . . DM for coaching inquiries @cnc.apparel || code: presleykp @1upnutrition || code: presleykp @ninelineapparel || code: presleykp @herbstrong || code: presley15 @warriorflask || code: presleykp @freskincare || code: Presley #paramedic #firefighterfit #toughest #firefighter #firefighterfitness #fitfirefighter #womeninuniform #engine #thinredline #ladderco #firefighterlife #engineco #onshift #onduty #firefighterwomen #firedepartment #god #firefighterbrotherhood #femalefirefighter #thinredlinefamily #ninelineapparel #nineline

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Longtime Back-and-Forth

In 2018, an Evergreen Fire District Board member claimed that a “concerned citizen” contacted him about Pritchard’s social media posts. This led to a board discussion in which she defended herself and pointed to the fact that there was no social media policy set in place. 

Pritchard told Vice that following that meeting, she estimates she was reprimanded 20 times for her social media content. Additionally, she claims she received criticism from her supervisors for what she wore when working out and the clothes she wore to work.

“I’m a good medic, I’m a good firefighter! I’ve never, ever once been talked to about my actual job,” Pritchard told Vice. 

Pritchard claimed that her photos are very similar to the content that her male colleagues put out: posts of themselves working out, in uniform or sometimes shirtless, and accompanied by inspirational captions. 

“It’s just really, really hypocritical,” she said to Vice. “It just sucks, because you see firefighters out here with these sexy firefighter calendars, and if females did that, they would literally be like, beaten to death. Everyone would call them sluts and whores. But it’s OK for guys, just like how it was OK for every guy in my department to have photos of themselves at training.”

After someone filed a separate complaint that Pritchard looked too provocative in her given-uniform last, she was issued men’s uniform pants. 

“I was like wow, fine, I’ll wear men’s pants! Are you serious?” she said to Vice. “Am I supposed to leave my butt at home?” 

Pritchard addressed the complaint in a February 2019 post. 

“If you’re a female in this field, especially an attractive or curvy girl, you’re GOING TO be ridiculed. You’re going to be mocked, made fun of, talked about poorly, judged by looks,” she wrote.

“Don’t give in. Don’t be discouraged,” she added. 

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My face when someone mentions how I’m “provocative” in professional attire 🤣 – This post is for all the ladies out there making a difference, doing their jobs day in & day out. – Have you ever been asked why you wear makeup in uniform? Or why you brush your hair and care how it looks? Or why you tighten your pants “too tight.” Or been told that you are too “manly,” “too skinny,” “too small,” or “you’re provocative” because of your curves or way you look that you can’t help? – If you’re a female in this field, especially an attractive or curvy girl, you’re GOING TO be ridiculed. You’re going to be mocked, made fun of, talked about poorly, judged by looks. – Here’s the thing; when you genuinely love yourself and others and what you’re doing while radiating the love of Jesus & walking in your calling, the enemy WILL try to knock you down. Did you know the enemy only attacks things of value? He sees you walking in God’s calling for your life, helping and inspiring others, and he will do EVERYTHING in his power to prevent you, stop you, discourage you, and talk you out of things meant for you. He does this through words, judgmental unbelievers, temptation; the devil has a bag of tricks up his sleeve. Don’t give in. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t throw in the towel. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can. So be a light to others. Keep shining. Keep doing you. Keep staying in your lane, inspiring, and making a difference. . . . . . #firefighter #firefighterworkouts #sweaty #ems #firefighterfitness #firefighterworkout #fitfirefighter #femalefirefighter #thinredline #fitfemalefirefighter #paramedic #fitforduty #womeninuniform #functionaltraining #medic #firstresponder #firedepartment #onduty #fitnessmotivation #mediclife #functionalfitness

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Pritchard was eventually asked to delete all of her work-related posts from her personal social media pages, but her lawyer told her that legally she was not required to take her posts down because the department never created an official social media policy. Though there was a discussion of developing one at the 2018 meeting, a board member told local news outlet Daily Inter Lake that it was never done.

Pritchard chose to leave her pictures up, and in August 2019 she was fired from her job. 

The fire department alleged that Pritchard’s social media activity violated two policies, according to Daily Inter Lake. They claimed that she engaged in conduct that disparaged Evergreen Fire when representing them on her page, as well as used the department for personal gain— specifically, taking photos in their facilities and using those to sell t-shirts online.  

However, Pritchard obtained letters from the companies that she promotes on her social pages confirming that she has only received money for her images that show a sponsor’s product, and never for any of her firefighting posts. 

Though her social media presence was cited as the reason for her termination, Pritchard believes that the true motives were sexist. She is requesting compensation for lost wages, time, and money, as well as the emotional distress she has experienced. 

Chief Craig Williams of the department issued a statement on the matter in late December, according to Daily Inter Lake. 

“The District takes very seriously all allegations it receives concerning workplace conditions,” Williams wrote. “While the Complainant never made or reported any allegations to the District while she was employed, the District hired an independent investigator to complete an investigation concerning the validity of the complaints. After a thorough investigation, no evidence was found to support any of the Complainant’s allegations.”

The district has not offered any further comment on the topic. 

Meanwhile, as the legal proceedings are ongoing and she waits for the state to conduct its own investigation, Pritchard continues to spouse positivity and self-love in her social posts. 

“You will be judged. Keep going,” she wrote in a Jan. 10 post. “Not everyone will get it. Move on. You owe no one who is committed to misunderstanding you an explanation. Stay in your light.” 

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Know this: Some people will not hear you regardless how much, how loud, how truthful, how loving, or how profound you speak. Wish them well and let them go. Be disciplined about what you respond and react to. Not everyone or everything deserves your time, energy, and attention. Let the keyboard warriors complain about how your squat form is crap, the way you hold a gun is wrong, the fact that you have a photo next to a fire truck must mean you’re only in it for attention, or because you’re a female in a military uniform means you don’t work but just take pictures for “attention.” – You’ll be judged. KEEP GOING. Not everyone will get it. MOVE on. You owe no one who is committed to misunderstanding you an explanation. Stay in your light 💡. – Wearing @ninelineapparel coat || code: presleykp and @bravobelt . . . . . . . #shooting #pewpew #glock19 #bravobelt #ninelineapparel #relentlesslypatriotic #girlswhoshoot #womeninuniform #leo #thinblueline #concealedcarry #weapons #pewpewlife #guns #ammo #glock

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See what others are saying: (Vice) (Associated Press) (Fox News)

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New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns

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  • The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
  • The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
  • The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.

CDC Issues Warning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.

While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus. 

The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.

Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.

Mitigating Spread of Variant

“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”

The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.

“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.

“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (New York Times) (NBC News)

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Former Michigan Gov. and 8 Others Charged Over Flint Water Crisis

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. (Al Goldis/AP)

  • Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis
  • By Thursday, eight more former state and city officials were charged with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to extortion.
  • Flint residents have long awaited this news. In 2019, prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against 15 officials and said they would start the investigation from scratch, citing concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

Rick Snyder Charges

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said Thursday that it had filed 41 charges against nine former state and city officials for their role in the Flint water crisis.

The most high-profile figure to be charged was former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. On Wednesday, he was hit with two counts of willful neglect of duty.

He was the state’s top executive when local officials decided to switch the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.

The switch was supposed to be a temporary cost-saving measure while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. However, the water wasn’t treated properly for corrosion, so lead-contaminated water was released into the homes of people all over the city. Because of that, 12 people died and at least 90 were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease.

Snyder appeared in court this morning via Zoom, pleading not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges. If convicted he could face up to a year in prison and as much as a $1,000 fine.

His charges alone are significant because they make him the first governor or former governor in the state to ever be charged with a crime for alleged conduct while in office.

8 Others Charged

Along with Snyder, eight others were charged, including a former state health director Nick Lyon. Lyon received nine charges of involuntary manslaughter, among others.

Richard Baird, one of Snyder’s closes advisors was changed for extortion, perjury, and obstructions of justice. Others who were charged include:

  • Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former chief of staff and Vice President Mike Pence’s former communications director.
  • Dr. Eden Wells, a former chief medical executive for the state Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Darnell Earley, former Flint finance director and state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Gerald Ambrose, former state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Howard Croft, former Flint Public Works Director.
  • Nancy Peeler, the state’s director of maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting for the health department.

Flint residents have waited a long time for justice over the water contamination issue. Prosecutors previously dropped all 15 criminal charges tied to the Flint case in 2019 and said the investigation would begin again from scratch.

At the time, they cited concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

It also wasn’t until last year that the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Detroit News) (Detroit Free Press)

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Three Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19 Following Capitol Attack

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  • At least three Congressmembers have tested positive for COVID-19 following Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) believe they contracted the virus after locking down in close quarters with numerous Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks.
  • Jayapal and Schneider are calling for those who did not wear a mask to face consequences.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman Tests Positive

At least three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after locking down in close quarters with other House members during Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 

Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, warned that members may have been exposed during the lockdown. He recommended that everyone who was isolated inside should get tested for the virus. 

On Monday Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) became the first to announce that she tested positive. Watson Coleman believes she was exposed while in the Capitol lockdown. In her statement, she cited the multiple Republicans who refused to wear masks while inside. Video footage from Punchbowl News shows a Democratic lawmaker handing out masks and a handful of Republicans declining to take one. 

Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old lung cancer survivor. While she said she is only experiencing cold-like symptoms, she tweeted that per a doctor’s suggestion, she headed to a local hospital for antibody treatment. She also encouraged those who sheltered in place to get tested. 

More Cases Follow

Later on Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she too had tested positive, also blaming a lack of mask-wearing in the Capitol. In a lengthy Twitter thread, she said Republicans created a superspreader event and demanded consequences for their actions. 

Many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack,” she wrote. 

“Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable,” Jayapal added. 

“I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) echoed her frustrations on Tuesday after releasing a statement saying he has become the third House member to have tested positive following the lockdown. 

“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” he wrote.

Like Jayapal, he is calling for sanctions against those who opted to not wear masks. 

Many health officials feared that this lockdown could lead to a surge in cases. They also worry that the mob itself could lead to a superspreader event as most of those who attacked the Capitol were not wearing masks and were crowding together both inside and outside of the building.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (NBC Chicago)

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