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Married Lesbian First Responders Say They Were Shamed Out of Jobs

Married Lesbian First Responders Say They Were Shamed Out of Jobs

Supervisors told the women that their co-workers expressed discomfort at their use of the term "wife."

Two married first responders say they were driven out of jobs in an Alberta, Canada emergency services department because other employees felt uncomfortable with their relationship.

Sheri and Alyssa Monk have since filed a complaint with Alberta's Human Rights Coalition, and shared a recording with CBC News of a supervisor telling the women not to talk about their marriage at work.

"We asked would this apply to everybody," Sheri said. "This manager said, 'No, because you're the only couple we've had complaints about.' We were also the only gay couple."

Marriage equality became law in Canada in 2005.

The couple started recording conversations with supervisors after being told co-workers were uncomfortable with a lesbian couple.

"You've been very open in sharing your relationship," Capt. Jennifer Fisher-Sundberg says in one recording. "I think public displays of affection, whether it's physical or verbal stand out more -- because you're both women -- than it does in the heterosexual population."

The women ultimately quit working for Pincher Creek Emergency Services in July 2017. Neither faced disciplinary action, but they allege in their complaint the discrimination created a hostile work place.

"When we asked if everybody would be getting the same set of rules we only met resistance," Alyssa said.

"We were working at a place where we weren't allowed to acknowledge our marriage, our personal lives or our family lives and we were the only ones that had to live and work that way," Sheri said.

The department denies any discrimination, though co-workers for the Banks confirmed to CBC News the couple likely faced discrimination.

Around the same time the couple left their jobs, CBC News also wrote about the difficulty rural Alberta communities face finding firefighters.

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