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

More in Local News

The site of a new development along May Creek Road next to the entrance of Wallace Falls State Park on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 in Gold Bar, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Gold Bar considers home parking permits near Wallace Falls

In the past, parking spilled from Wallace Falls State Park into town. Decals could avoid conflicts.

Oak Harbor legal staff quits over ‘compromised’ relationships

The city attorney and the senior assistant city attorney, who is also the public records officer, both resigned.

Connie L. Bigelow at her store Miniatures & More in Edmonds on Tuesday. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
Woman pleads guilty to wire fraud in Edmonds doll store fire

Connie Bigelow tried to collect insurance after setting fire to her business. Now she has to pay restitution.

The scene where police from a King County agency shot a man at the end of a car chase Monday afternoon in a Safeway parking lot in Snohomish on September, 27, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Police shoot man as chase ends at Safeway in Clearview

After a car crash in a parking lot, officers from King County opened fire. One man was sent to a hospital.

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office released this image of a possible suspect in a homicide at a gas station at 148th Street SW and Highway 99 near Lynnwood. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office) 20210926
Detectives investigate homicide at gas station near Lynnwood

One person was killed and a suspect was at large, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said.

Zach Graham stands in front of a newly restored Three Fingers Lookout. (Friends of Three Fingers Lookout)
Volunteers give makeover to precarious Three Fingers Lookout

Up high, with cliffs on all sides, the 90-year-old hut got much-needed new windows, shutters and paint.

Arlington son, 19, charged with slaying his father

Nicholi Melum had been yelling at his son, Garner, when he was killed.

Crews demolish the strip mall at 10th and Broadway, near the Washington State University Everett campus, on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 in Everett, Washington. Crews started tearing down a strip mall Monday on property that will soon expand Everett Community College’s footprint across Broadway. The Cascade Learning Resource Center project will total 65,000 square feet. It will expand the college’s tutoring resources as well as house the library, writing center and other academic support programs. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Demolition begins to make way for EvCC learning center

The 65,000-square-foot project will expand the college’s tutoring resources. It’s set to open in April 2023.

Marysville man shot in hand during apparent drug robbery

At least two suspects were being sought, and police are seeking surveillance video.

Most Read