Marion County recently approved a lawsuit settlement filed by a former employee over allegations of gender discrimination.
Marion County recently agreed to pay more than $300,000 to settle a sexual discrimination suit filed by an employee, Jamie Namitz. Namitz filed the lawsuit against the county, former county chief administrative officer John Lattimer and her former manager Don Newell back in February, over allegations that Newell said her “greatest asset was her sexuality and he would be concerned if he promoted her, the crew wouldn’t listen to her or respect her.”
As part of the settlement, Namitz will receive $250,000 from the county and $61,4000 to help cover the attorneys’ fees and costs. Namitz first came forward with her allegations back in October 2018 when she testified to county commissioners that Newell “discriminated against her based on her sex during a job interview in August 2018.” Days later, she left her job with the county.
According to the suit, Namitz was first hired by the county in 2002 as a custodial worker. In 2006, she moved up the ladder and began working as a medium equipment operator where she was responsible for “running equipment such as bulldozers, street sweepers, and pavers.” Out of the 44 employees in the Public Works Department working as medium equipment operators, only two are female. During her time in the position, Namitz “received a positive performance evaluation in 2017 by Newell and then-Public Works Director Alan Haley and applied for at least five promotions since 2006, including applying to be a crew leader and road operations supervisor in 2017, but she wasn’t promoted,” according to the suit. In 2018, she applied for a road operations supervisor position, but after the interview, “Newell recommended that Marion County not promote her and the position was given to a male candidate,” the suit argued.
Not long after, Namitz reported Newell’s comments to human resources and it began conducting an investigation into the matter. In the end, it found “Newell’s actions were contrary to Marion County’s non-discrimination policy.” Additionally, it also found evidence of “sexual discrimination in her 2017 application for promotion and that Newell engaged in a long-term pattern of sexual discrimination.”
According to the lawsuit, the HR investigation determined “Newell subjected all nine female employees who worked closely with him to gender discrimination, including harassment and derogatory comments.” It further alleged that after Newell became a manager in 2006, he “hired one woman, promoted one woman into a leadership role and none into a supervisory position.”
At the conclusion of the HR investigation, Lisa Waddell, an HR analyst, presented the findings to Lattimer and current chief administrative officer Jan Fritz “during a meeting in September 2018, recommending that Newell be terminated.” However, Newell was simply placed on a one-week suspension. The lawsuit further alleged Waddell was “reassigned from her public works position to another department before she could address the pattern of gender-based discrimination.”
From there, Namitz filed a complaint with the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) in November of 2018. Then, in November 2019, BOLI “issued a notice of substantial evidence and a right to sue notice, finding Namitz was held to different terms of employment than others and denied promotions based on her sex.” Waddell also filed her own complaint in June 2019, arguing she had also been discriminated against when she was “placed on indefinite paid suspension.” That particular complaint has yet to be resolved.