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Washington DOC Personnel In-Fighting Results in $230,000 Settlement

An acrimonious inter-employee dis-pute among staff of Washington's Department of Corrections was settled in January, 2002 by the state paying three Washington State Penitentiary (WSP) employees $230,000 and gaining both their resignations as well as promises never again to work for Washington DOC.

When John Schildt sued Washington DOC and employees Blanca Gaukroger (plus her husband) and Isabel Perez in Walla Walla County Superior Court for job discrimination and a hostile work environment, the fur began to fly. The Gaukrogers, Perez, and added cross-complainant Sherri Vick-McCoy cross-sued for discrimination and harassment based on sex, race and religion, in violation of RCW 49.60, as well as retaliation, aiding and abetting, negligent supervision and negligent retention.

Gaukroger, a dental assistant at WSP, had been previously subjected to a hostile work environment between May, 1990 and July 1992. Represented then by Walla Walla attorney M. Scott Wolfram, she sued her supervisors Douglas Wood, Daniel Iverson, David Hoegar and Ronald Lindquist for racial and sexual slurs as well as for job discrimination. Lindquist had retaliated by filing a disparaging employee conduct report against Gaukroger, but this was later removed when her Walla Walla County Superior Court suit settled for $25,000 in October, 1994. See: Gaukroger v. State of Washington, Walla Walla No. 94-2-00135-4.

In the newest settlement agreement negotiated by attorney Artis Grant, Gaukroger, Perez and Vick-McCoy agreed to accept $75,000, $80,000 and $75,000, respectively, in satisfaction of their cross-complaints. Each further agreed to resign effective January 31, 2002 and to never again seek or accept employment with the DOC. See: Schildt v. Lehman, Walla Walla County Superior Court No. 00-2-00694-3.

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Related legal case

Schildt v. Lehman