Mediation Results in $150,000 Settlement Regarding County Coroner Sexual Harassment Accusations
Yakima County will pay a county employee $150,000 after accusations were levied against County Coroner Jack Hawkins. The path to the settlement included mediation, and while the settlement is significant, the terms of the mediated agreement did not require Hawkins admit to wrongdoing and the lawsuit must be dropped. Both sides also decided to agree to not speak ill of each other publicly.
The cost of mediation was just under $3600.
The settlement amount and other details were unanimously approved without discussion by the Board of Yakima County Commissioners shortly after the sides emerged from mediation.
According to Commission Chairman Ron Anderson, the board was advised to handle the settlement decision in that manner because there was a nondisclosure clause in the settlement. Anderson stated there would be no further comment concerning the settlement, but the local newspaper was able to get a copy of the document by submitting a public records request.
The employee’s attorney reported they were satisfied with the settlement, but stated “It was unfortunate that these lawsuits have to be brought. It would be nice if it got to the point where sexual harassment is eradicated from the workplace”.
The employee who filed the lawsuit still works for the county, but is no longer with the coroner’s office. According to reports, the woman accused Hawkins of sexual harassment in August 2016, claiming he rubbed her shoulders and kissed her several time, despite her rejections. She also reported Hawkins left her text and voices messages that were inappropriate.
Hawkins plans to seek re-election and thus far, has one opponent.