Everett Community College settled a lawsuit for $150,000 with a former employee who claimed she was discriminated against. (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Everett Community College settled a lawsuit for $150,000 with a former employee who claimed she was discriminated against. (Sue Misao / Herald file)

EvCC pays $150,000 to settle terminated employee’s lawsuit

A former security sergeant asked the college for disability accommodations before she was let go.

EVERETT — Everett Community College has settled a lawsuit for $150,000 with a woman who claimed she was discriminated against based on a disability when she was fired in 2019.

The complaint, filed in Snohomish County Superior Court in 2019, recounts a more than two-year saga after Betty Fletcher, a campus security sergeant, was diagnosed with a knee injury that affected her work.

In a response to Fletcher’s complaint, the college wrote that its conduct was “legitimate, non-retaliatory and non-discriminatory.” It also claimed it “at all times acted in good faith.” The college told The Daily Herald this week that it could not comment on legal or personnel issues.

Fletcher started working as a parking enforcement officer at the college in 2006. She rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a campus security sergeant in 2014 or 2015.

She was diagnosed with a partial tear in a ligament in her right knee in 2016. She then filed a claim for worker compensation benefits with the state Department of Labor and Industries. The department approved the claim in 2017.

Meanwhile, a college employee who worked under Fletcher reported racial discrimination by another supervisor.

In an interview with an investigator hired by EvCC to look into the accusation, Fletcher detailed the racial discrimination she’d observed by the other supervisor.

The investigator then became combative and urged Fletcher to change her story, the lawsuit claims. She refused. The college denied those assertions in court filings.

After that episode, the college put Fletcher on administrative leave in April 2018 and “forced her to undergo a psychiatric evaluation,” according to the complaint. EvCC countered that it “requested” such an examination. The psychiatrist found Fletcher fit to work, but she wasn’t allowed to return to the job until June 2018, the lawsuit claims.

The next month, Fletcher requested the college give her a lighter workload. The college agreed. In August 2018, she asked to take a medical leave of absence for much of the month. Fletcher’s doctor said in late August she could go back to the lighter workload.

She then asked EvCC to better accommodate her disability. The complaint claims there were jobs suitable to Fletcher’s physical restrictions, but the college “refused to discuss with her whether it could accommodate her disability.” The college denied there were other positions to which Fletcher could have shifted.

Then in March 2019, the college fired Fletcher.  

She asked to be reinstated that May. But a few days later, the lawsuit alleges, the college refused to give Fletcher her job back because she requested accommodations and filed complaints over workplace violations. EvCC denied this.

“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 reads.

The case was to go to trial, but in mid-June the college settled the lawsuit for $150,000. Of that, $30,000 were considered wages. By settling, EvCC is not admitting to any wrongdoing.

“Ultimately, EvCC did the right thing,” said Timothy Emery, Fletcher’s attorney. “They made my client whole.”

Emery called the settlement a “very fair resolution.” He said in an email Fletcher is now focused on moving on with a new career.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist dies in crash on Highway 530

Jeremy Doyle, 46, was riding east near Darrington when he crashed into the side of a car that was turning left.

The Marysville School District office on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Financially insolvent’ Marysville schools to get unprecedented oversight

Superintendent Chris Reykdal will convene a first-of-its-kind Financial Oversight Committee, he wrote in a letter Tuesday.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

Woodside Elementary Principal Betty Cobbs on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s first Black principal retires after 51 years

In her office, Betty Cobbs kept a black-and-white photo of herself at age 5: “I am right there, with dreams of becoming an educator.”

Junelle Lewis, right, daughter Tamara Grigsby and son Jayden Hill sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during Monroe’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
On Juneteenth: ‘We can always say that there is hope’

The Snohomish County NAACP is co-sponsoring a celebration Saturday near Snohomish, with speakers, music and food.

A fire marshal takes photos of the back of a home that caught fire on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in Tulalip, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Man suffers burn injuries in Marysville house fire

Around 2:30 p.m., firefighters responded to a report of a mushroom cloud coming from a home at 27th Avenue NE and 81st Street NE.

A Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane test its engines outside of the company's factory on March 11, 2019 in Renton, Washington. Boeing's stock dropped today after an Ethiopian Airlines flight was the second deadly crash in six months involving the Boeing 737 Max 8, the newest version of its most popular jetliner. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/TNS)
Boeing lost track of up to 400 faulty 737 Max parts, whistleblower says

The claims were detailed in a Boeing inspector’s complaint on June 11 and made public by a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.