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Former police secretary nets termination settlement

California's nearby neighbor, Washington state, will pay the former confidential secretary more than $587,000 in connection with a wrongful termination suit. The woman had been the secretary for a former police chief, who was reportedly fired in 2005 for dishonesty. That man has also received financial compensation for his termination. He was unfairly targeted and fired because he publicly advocated marijuana legalization.

The woman stated in the complaint that she was transferred, demoted and eventually fired because of the testimony she gave in the police chief's lawsuit against the city of Mountlake Terrace. The city had reportedly paid the former police chief nearly $1 million in connection with his wrongful termination suit. The woman had testified in favor of her former boss in his suit, which apparently drew the ire of the assistant police chief and other officials.

In addition, the city in this case will not seek reimbursement for the rehiring charges associated with the woman's claim. The municipality had sought to obtain more than $53,000 for the costs of the confidential secretary's unemployment benefits. The city has also agreed to rehire the woman for a day so she can officially resign, rather than having a termination marring her resume.

City officials say their decision to settle the case does not amount to an admission of guilt. Still, without a settlement, the case would have gone to trial. A trial would have likely been more damaging for the municipality because jurors would sympathize with the wrongfully terminated employee. As a result, the city probably paid the woman less than she would have otherwise received from a trial judgment.

Settlements are generally beneficial decisions for both parties because victims get financial compensation much faster than they would during a lengthy trial. Additionally, organizations who are implicated in the suits spend less than they would during a trial, and time-consuming appeals are not necessary. In this case, both parties benefitted.

Source: Herald Net, "Terrace settles former employee's suit for $587,500," Feb. 12, 2013

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