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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.

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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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Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances

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Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.


One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down

After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.

The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.

Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.

A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.

The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.

In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.

The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.

A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.

Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye

“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.

Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.

Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.

“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.

When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.

“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”

On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.

On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.

Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Herald Review) (CNN)

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U.S. Tops One Million Coronavirus Deaths, WHO Estimates 15 Million Worldwide

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India’s real COVID death toll stands at about 4.7 million, ten times higher than official data, the WHO estimated.


One Million Dead

The United States officially surpassed one million coronavirus deaths Wednesday, 26 months after the first death was reported in late February of 2020.

Experts believe that figure is likely an undercount, since there are around 200,000 excess deaths, though some of those may not be COVID-related.

The figure is the equivalent of the population of San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the U.S., vanishing in just over two years. To put the magnitude in visual perspective, NECN published a graphic illustrating what one million deaths looks like.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the White House predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus in a best-case scenario.

By February 2021, over half a million Americans had died of COVID.

The coronavirus has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.

The pandemic’s effects go beyond its death toll. Around a quarter of a million children have lost a caregiver to the virus, including about 200,000 who lost one or both parents. Every COVID-related death leaves an estimated nine people grieving.

The virus has hit certain industries harder than others, with food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction seeing especially high death rates.

People’s mental health has also been affected, with a study in January of five Western countries including the U.S. finding that 13% of people reported symptoms of PTSD attributable to actual or potential contact with the virus.

Fifteen Million Dead

On Thursday, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 15 million people have died from the pandemic worldwide, a dramatic revision from the 5.4 million previously reported in official statistics.

Between January 2020 and the end of last year, the WHO estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.

Based on that range, scientists arrived at an approximate total of 14.9 million.

The new estimate shows a 13% increase in deaths than is usually expected for a two-year period.

“This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research, told the Associated Press.

Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

According to the WHO, India counts the most deaths by far with 4.7 million, ten times its official number.

See what others are saying: (NBC) (U.S. News and World Report) (Scientific American)

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Official Says Missing Alabama Convict and Corrections Officer Had a “Special Relationship”

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Authorities have also said they now believe the officer willfully helped the inmate escape.


New Information on Missing Inmate & Officer

Authorities in Alabama revealed Tuesday that Assistant Director of Corrections for Lauderdale County Vicky White, who is accused of helping a murder suspect Casey Cole White escape from jail, had a “special relationship” with the inmate.

“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said in a statement. “That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”

Officials have previously said that the two are not related, despite their shared surname.

Singleton elaborated on the nature of the relationship while speaking to CNN later on Tuesday. He said it took place “outside of her normal work hours” and added that although it did not include “physical contact,” he still characterized it as “a relationship of a different nature.”

“We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates,” Singleton said.

Also on Tuesday, the Marshals Service issued a statement confirming that authorities believe Officer White had helped Mr. White escape. The authorities described her as a “wanted fugitive” and offered a $5,000 reward for any information on her whereabouts. Earlier this week, the Marshals Service also offered a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to Mr. White’s capture.

Singleton echoed the belief that Officer White’s actions were intentional while speaking to Good Morning America Wednesday.

“I think all of our employees and myself included were really hoping that she did not participate in this willingly. But all indications are that she absolutely did,” he said. “We’re very disappointed in that because we had the utmost trust in her as an employee and as an assistant director of corrections.”

Mysterious Escape

Vicky White and Casey White were last seen leaving the Lauderdale County jail just after 9:30 a.m. Friday. The officer told other employees that she was taking the inmate to a mental health evaluation at a courthouse just down the road, and that she would be going to a medical appointment after because she was not feeling well.

Officials later said her actions violated an official policy that required two sworn deputies to transport people with murder charges. In 2020, Mr. White was charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to a fatal stabbing he confessed to and was awaiting his trial in Lauderdale County.

Mr. White was also serving time for what officials said was a “crime spree” in 2015 which included home invasion, carjacking, and a police chase. He had also previously tried to escape from jail, police said.

It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. on Friday that a jail employee reported to higher-ups that he was not able to reach Officer White on her phone and that Mr. White had never been returned to his cell.

During a press conference that same night, Singleton told reporters that there had never even been a scheduled mental health evaluation. At another briefing Monday, he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Vicky on a charge of “permitting or facilitating an escape in the first degree.”

At the time, Singleton said it was unclear “whether she did that willingly or was coerced or threatened” but added, “we know for sure she did participate.” 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (ABC News) (NPR)

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