State Senate settles on hostile-workplace claim

Republican lawyer filed complaint about Sen. Roach

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OLYMPIA (AP) — The state Senate will review its workplace policies and has reaffirmed its sanctions against a Republican senator under a settlement announced Friday.

Mike Hoover, a senior Republican attorney for the Senate who had originally been seeking $1.75 million from a hostile work environment claim he filed earlier this year, did not receive any money under the settlement.

However, under the terms of the agreement dated Wednesday, in return for Hoover dropping the complaint, the state reaffirmed its commitment to its policies addressing a respectful workplace, as well as reaffirmed sanctions against Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, that limit her interactions with staff.

"Some things are more important than money," Hoover wrote in an emailed statement. "Among them, treating people with decency and respect."

Hoover, who has been on leave since April, says he was subjected to a hostile and abusive workplace because of Roach. She was banned from the Republican caucus two years ago after an investigation determined that she had mistreated staff.

GOP leaders implemented policies barring Roach from the caucus room and deemed her ineligible to participate in caucus votes. The Senate Facilities and Operations Committee, which oversees personnel issues, issued a reprimand on behalf of the entire Senate in early 2010, and ordered that Roach should have no direct contact with most Senate staff.

While Roach had received prior reprimands for her interactions with staff, the January 2010 punishment followed numerous incidents with Hoover, culminating with an "unusually vicious attack" in 2009, according to the 15-page complaint Hoover filed with the Senate this year. In that incident, the document says, Roach yelled at Hoover during a meeting with the rest of the caucus.

Hoover had argued that the sanctions were "improperly removed" when she was allowed back into the caucus around the time of a key budget vote in the Legislature this year.

Roach was out of the country on Friday but emailed a statement saying that the accusations against her were false.

"Political hate aimed at hurting me is wrong and needs to be addressed," she wrote.