Commissioners OK potential payment to settle racial, sexual discrimination complaint
By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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A mediation session between representatives for the county and Holiday is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday at the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's regional office in the federal building in Seattle, Commissioner Jim McEntire said Tuesday.
Up to $100,000 of any settlement would be paid from the $1.45 million county-taxpayer-funded insurance-risk-management fund, county Administrator Jim Jones said.
The remainder, if any, would be paid from a statewide insurance risk pool in which the county participates.
McEntire and Commissioner Mike Doherty met in an hourlong executive session Monday — commission Chairman Mike Chapman was on vacation — before emerging and agreeing to a settlement cap they did not publicly disclose.
They also named county Human Resources Director Rich Sill as the county's primary mediation negotiator and Jones as the secondary negotiator.
Sill is authorized to reach an agreement — including whether it contains a settlement amount — and “sign it on the spot” without further action by the commissioners “because it is in everybody's interest to get that done if we can do it for a fraction of the cost to litigate,” Jones said.
Any agreement reached will be made public unless it is sealed by a judge, Jones said.
Any action by a judge to bar disclosure “is unlikely to happen,” Jones said.
McEntire, the commission vice chairman, would not comment on the cap.
“It's not in the public interest to disclose anything in a matter like this because that gives away strategy to the other side of the discussion,” he said Tuesday.
“The [state Open Public Meetings Act] provides for nondisclosure of that kind of thing.”
Holiday, an African-American, was an unsuccessful 2012 candidate for Chapman's Port Angeles-area District 2 position.
She filed the “charge of discrimination” March 29 with the state Human Rights Commission and April 8 with the EEOC.
Holiday holds the position of grant coordinator for county Health & Human Services at a salary of $51,958.
Here's the text of her complaint:
“Since mid-2012, I have been subjected to lower-graded performance evaluations than those I previously earned; and to a warning letter dated Oct. 26, 2012; and I was placed on a performance improvement plan; and I am required to make a weekly task list although other employees only are required to make a monthly task list; and I was denied approval to attend the Montana Summer Institute for 2013,” Holiday said in the complaint.
“I believe that these actions are based on my race, black; and are in retaliation for my protests of race discrimination; and are based on my sex, female; in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.”
Holiday, who has been a grant coordinator since December 2010, is the wife of Port Angeles City Councilman Max Mania, who is not seeking re-election.
“I am represented by counsel, and anything will have to go through her,” Holiday said in a voice-mail response to a request for comment Tuesday about the mediation session.
Holiday is represented by Stephanie Bloomfield of Tacoma, whose specialties are civil litigation and employment law, Bloomfield said Tuesday.
In 2012, Bloomfield represented three former Clallam County employees and the daughter of a deceased county employee who accepted a combined $1.6 million settlement — three days before trial — that resolved age and discrimination claims against county Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly and Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols.
The county paid $100,000 of the settlement, with the remainder drawn from the insurance risk pool.
No other remedies are being sought other than a mediation resolution,” Bloomfield said Tuesday.
Parties to the mediation session sign a confidentiality pact in which they agree that “all matters discussed during the mediation are confidential, unless otherwise discoverable,” according to the agreement.
The mediation session is not tape-recorded or transcribed, and all notes, records or documents generated during the course of the session are destroyed at the session's conclusion.
“If a settlement is reached by all the parties, the agreement shall be reduced to writing and when signed shall be binding upon all parties to the agreement,” the confidentiality agreement says.
Rudy Hurtado, a program analyst with the EEOC, said in an earlier interview that about 80 percent of discrimination cases that go to mediation are settled out of court and that “generally,” the payment of money is involved.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: July 30. 2013 10:02PM