Maryland settles BWI Marshall fire department gender discrimination case

Maryland will pay $157,500 to settle a lawsuit that accused BWI Marshall Airport of hiring discrimination within its fire department.

Maryland’s Board of Public Works is scheduled to approve the settlement next week with a woman who had more than three decades of experience, but who was passed over for promotion to lead a new EMS office that she helped set up.

Barbara Lowman, of Mount Airy, reached a settlement this May, about a year and a half after she retired out of frustration.

Lowman alleged the man hired ahead of her was less qualified and less familiar with the job, and complained that the interview panel did not meet diversity requirements. The panel was made up of three white men with experience as first responders, and a black woman who had no experience with the fire department.

“In addition to not having a diverse panel as required by the MAA (Maryland Aviation Administration) directive on interviews, the female interviewer was an administrative assistant for the executive director/CEO of MAA with no experience in the fire and rescue field,” an amended complaint filed last year said.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had concluded there was discrimination in the process based on Lowman being a woman, but the U.S. Department of Justice declined to sue.

After that federal complaint and conclusions, Lowman’s shifts and responsibilities were changed, which she alleged was in retaliation.

Lowman’s lawsuit had sought damages for lost wages and other relief.

It is unclear what share of the $157,500 covers damages and what share covers attorneys’ fees and costs.

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