Ex-staffer who alleged bias by county Public Works director gets $97K

Amy Powell alleged Director Kelly Snyder created an abusive work environment that made her “uncomfortable and physically unwell.”

Public Works director Kelly Snyder (Snohomish County)

Public Works director Kelly Snyder (Snohomish County)

EVERETT — The county agreed to pay over $97,000 last month to a former public works employee who alleged the director of the department subjected her to gender discrimination.

In a damage claim filed last May, Amy Powell, who had worked for the county public works department for 16 years, alleged Director Kelly Snyder’s discrimination began after returning from maternity leave in late 2020.

At that point, Powell was working as an assistant to Snyder, according to the claim obtained through a public records request. Before joining the county in January 2020, Snyder was vice chancellor at the University of Washington’s Bothell campus, director of the state Department of Commerce’s Public Works Board and a co-owner of a civil engineering firm.

Through a department spokesperson, Snyder said “the settlement speaks for itself.”

On the day Powell returned from maternity leave in November 2020, she told Snyder she’d need time to pump breast milk. Snyder reportedly advised her to “make sure you make up your time from when you’re pumping.” Powell was a salaried employee, so she didn’t need to track her work on an hourly basis, records show.

A few days later, Snyder moved Powell’s desk to a public facing area in the office. The director also scheduled a meeting for Powell to run when she needed to pump milk for her child, the employee alleged.

On a call months later, Snyder mocked Powell’s body language and said the assistant’s work was “stacking up,” the claim states.

Powell asked Snyder for clarification about what wasn’t getting done. Snyder was “unable to respond,” according to the damage claim.

In August 2021, Powell asked to work from home because “the abusive environment with Ms. Snyder was making her uncomfortable and physically unwell,” according to the complaint. By this point, Powell had been going to therapy for a few months due to the issues with the director.

Snyder reportedly told county human resources she felt Snyder was micromanaging her. This left her feeling devalued and disrespected. Human resources met with Snyder, but the issues didn’t end, according to Powell’s claim.

In September 2021, Powell took leave provided under the Family Medical Leave Act to “address the physical and mental symptoms related to the hostile workplace environment created by Ms. Snyder,” the claim reads.

Last month, the county settled with Powell for $97,262, while noting the settlement should not be seen as an admission of wrongdoing. With the settlement, Powell’s employment with the county was terminated.

In an email Wednesday, the ex-employee declined to comment, noting she was “working towards healing and moving on.”

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

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