'Really hypocritical': Ex-firefighter 'sacked over Instagram gym photos'

A female firefighter is suing her former department after claiming she was sacked over photos posted to her Instagram account. 

Presley Pritchard, a former firefighter paramedic with the Evergreen Fire Rescue in the US state of Montana, said she was let go from her job last August after being "directly targeted due to how I looked in my gym attire", among other factors related to her social media presence.

She has now filed a wrongful termination lawsuit that accuses her superiors of gender discrimination, the Daily Inter Lake reported. 

The 27-year-old's lawsuit states she was unfairly singled out for her status as a fitness influencer.

She has nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram, where she typically shares photos and videos of her workout routine as well as inspirational messages and posts promoting her several partnerships with wellness brands.

Presley Pritchard worked at the Montana fire department for three years before having her employment terminated. Source: Instagram/presleykp.fit

But that online presence, which Ms Prichard has contended was completely separate from her job, began causing issues in 2018 when Jack Fallon, a member of the Evergreen Fire District Board, began raising concerns about the account.

Ms Pritchard said those concerns continued throughout the following year, according to Vice.

"It was just ongoing — they would call me in for everything,” she said.

“It was just always like walking on eggshells there."

The firefighter told Vice she was reprimanded about 20 times for issues involving her account, including what she wore to the gym and in other photos on the page.

Most of Ms Pritchard's photos feature her dressed in workout clothes, but others show her in bathing suits, posing with friends or shooting guns. 

"I actually got issued men's uniform pants. So I was like wow, fine, I'll wear men's pants! Are you serious? Am I supposed to leave my butt at home?” she said.

Ms Pritchard added, despite the harassment she faced, she saw her male colleagues participate in similar behaviour.

She showed Vice multiple photos of male firefighters from her former department posing shirtless on social media.

"It's just really, really hypocritical," she told the publication.

"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."

According to Ms Pritchard's lawsuit, she was ultimately fired after being asked to remove several photos of her in her firefighter uniform as her bosses said it blurred the line between her work and her personal brand.

However, she told Vice a lawyer told her she didn't need to remove the photos as her department did not have any sort of standard social media policy.

Ms Pritchard claimed her Instagram posts were the reason she lost her job. Source: Instagram/presleykp.fit

But Ms Pritchard said she was still fired for not removing the photos.

She filed her lawsuit in December, claiming she was ultimately let go due to sexism and a double standard favouring men.

In the US, fire departments are largely a male-dominated workspace — only seven per cent of all firefighters are female, according to the latest data from the National Fire Protection Association. 

"Everybody knows that's how the fire service is, and the military, and law enforcement, when you're in it," she told Vice.

Ms Pritchard's lawsuit is reportedly still underway and a state investigator has been assigned to her case.

– Yahoo Lifestyle

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