Emery Reddy secured a $150,000 settlement for a former Everett Community College (EvCC) employee who was fired after amid a discrimination investigation following her workplace injury.
In 2016, Betty Fletcher hurt her knee while working as a campus security sergeant at EvCC. A doctor diagnosed the injury as a partial tear in Fletcher’s right knee and she filed a workers’ compensation claim through the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). L&I approved the claim in 2017.
At around the same time, EvCC launched an unrelated investigation into allegations of racial discrimination by a colleague of Fletcher’s, according to the complaint, filed by Emery Reddy in Snohomish County Superior Court in 2019. In an interview with the investigator hired by EvCC to look into the accusations, Fletcher said that she had also observed racial discrimination by the accused supervisor. At that point, she said the investigator became combative and pressured Fletcher to change her story, which she refused to do.
In April 2018, following the exchange with the investigator, EvCC placed Fletcher on administrative leave and had her take a psychiatric evaluation.
The psychiatrist found Fletcher fit to work, but said she should not return to the job until June 2018. Following a few months back at work with lighter duties, Fletcher requested a medical leave of absence for much of August. By the end of the month, her doctor said she could return again to the job with the lighter workload.
When Fletcher subsequently asked EvCC to better accommodate her disability by shifting her to a position more suitable to her physical restrictions, the college said there were no other suitable positions available and “refused to discuss with her whether it could accommodate her disability,” according to the complaint.
In March 2019, EvCC fired Fletcher and turned down requests to reinstate her.
“The (college) wrongfully placed (Fletcher) on administrative leave, forced her to undergo an unnecessary mental examination, and refused to allow her to return to work, even after being released by EvCC’s psychiatrist, and, ultimately, terminated her,” the complaint said.
In mid-June, before the case went to trial, EvCC settled the lawsuit for $150,000, $30,000 of which were considered wages. As part of the settlement, EvCC did not admit to any wrongdoing.
“Ultimately, EvCC did the right thing,” Timothy Emery, Fletcher’s attorney, told the Daily Herald. “They made my client whole.”
Emery called the settlement a “very fair resolution,” adding that Fletcher has shifted focus to moving on with a new career.
Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us for a free consultation if you have an L&I, workers’ comp, or other employment law claim. You won’t get better advice.