Story by 10News.com
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- A former San Diego State University student who was supposed to make history with the Carlsbad Fire Department said her chance to be the city's first female firefighter ended in controversy.
Brittany McMahon believes she was denied the chance to be a firefighter paramedic in Carlsbad because she is a woman.
"It was like, 'How could this be happening right now? How could you be okay doing this?'" she said.
The 28-year-old is from northern California but has spent a lot of time with her relatives who live in Carlsbad.
McMahon was the first and only woman to be accepted into the program. She began training as a probationary firefighter in January of 2010. Throughout the training period, she had completed every task and passed with flying colors. Three weeks before she was to end her probation in December, she received jaw-dropping news.
"They put two letters on a table," she said. "One was a letter of resignation and one was a letter of termination and they said, 'If you don't sign the letter of resignation then you will be terminated.'"
She said she signed the resignation, per the instructions of her union representative, so she could apply somewhere else.
"The moment I asked why I am being let go and they couldn't give me an explanation, I knew something was wrong," said McMahon.
McMahon's attorney Matthew Palmer told 10News, "Unfortunately, the reason that Brittany was terminated from Carlsbad was only one and that was because she is the wrong gender."
She also told 10News about the sexual harassment she endured by her superiors.
"I was walking down the hallway and one of my coworkers stopped me and said, 'Where are you going?'… I said, 'I am going to take a shower' and he said, 'Do you want any help with that?'"
McMahon is now working as a paramedic in Santa Cruz and is making roughly one-fourth of what she could have been making in Carlsbad. That is one reason why she has filed a $2 million claim and a lawsuit for gender discrimination and wrongful termination against the city of Carlsbad.
"I was planning on saving up for a house [and] having a family," she said. "I was basing my life in Carlsbad and they ripped it out from underneath me. That deserves an explanation."
The city of Carlsbad is not yet commenting on the lawsuit since McMahon's attorney is redrafting the complaint.
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