Another hazing case is in the news, and once again sex is at the center of it. In New Mexico, the Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue disciplined five employees following an investigating into allegations that four male firefighters in the Department engaged in continuous harassment of a new male employee regarding the size of his genitalia.
According to City Manager James Jimenez “the nature and extent of this particular incident exceeded the boundaries of propriety and accountability”. The incident happened in May 2011. The Department placed three firefighters on paid administrative leave pending investigation.
The fire department refused to release names and ranks of the accused firefighters stating that it was a personnel matter. This then triggered a reaction from the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government claiming the city was violating state sunshine laws (open government laws, and in particular open records laws). The group advocates that details regarding public employee misconduct be disclosed to the public, and that employee privacy protections should not be used to conceal wrongdoing from those who pay the bills.
Sarah Welsh, Executive Director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, is quoted by the Rio Rancho Journal as stating “The public is supposed to provide oversight of government, and what is government, really, if not the actions of public employees and their supervisors? Those actions have to be transparent and accessible.”
Four firefighters received between a one and an eight day suspension without pay for the hazing, and a fifth was suspended without pay for 30 days for attempting to pressure the victim not to cooperate with the internal investigation.