Port Angeles City Council to go behind closed doors for claim settlement

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — City Council members could consider settling an employee claim against the city during a special meeting tonight.

Council members are set to meet at 4:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers of City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St., for a closed executive session to discuss potential litigation with legal counsel, according to a city meeting announcement.

The session is expected to last about 20 minutes, according to the city.

In an open session to follow, council members could potentially take action “regarding the consideration of a settlement agreement regarding an employee claim,” according to the meeting announcement.

City Manager Dan McKeen said he could not comment on the details of the claim or the settlement agreement.

By city code, any expenditure beyond $25,000 has to be approved by City Council members, while those below that amount can be approved by McKeen.

Assistant City Attorney Heidi Greenwood said Monday she could not release any details about the settlement or claim without conferring with City Attorney Bill Bloor, who was unavailable Monday.

Greenwood did confirm that the claim does not involve either Teresa Pierce, city executive administrative assistant and deputy city clerk, or Yvonne Ziomkowski, former city finance director.

Both Ziomkowski and Pierce have filed claims for damages against the city within the past two years.

Pierce, who has worked for the city for 12 years, filed a claim Jan. 13 of this year alleging Councilman Brad Collins made inappropriate sexual comments to her and repeatedly looked at her in ways that made her uncomfortable in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Pierce also alleged that City Clerk Janessa Hurd once served as a “safety net” for her around Collins but became “disrespectful and belittling” after Pierce’s job title at the city was changed from executive communications coordinator to executive administrative assistant and deputy city clerk in August.

Pierce, 53, is currently on inactive status, meaning she is still technically employed by the city but is not getting paid.

Ziomkowski filed a claim for damages received by the city June 28, 2012, alleging she was wrongfully fired March 15, 2012, and subjected to a hostile work environment, and that sex and age discrimination led to her firing, according to her complaint.

Ziomkowski, 59, was fired for violating city policy by withdrawing vacation- and sick-day cashouts totaling $28,862, funds she has since re­paid.

Ziomkowski filed a lawsuit against the city May 14, 2013. It is set for an Oct. 13 trial in Clallam County Superior Court.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.



Senior Staff Writer Pail Gottlieb contributed to this report

Last modified: April 28. 2014 6:32PM
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