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News / Clark County News

WSP settles 2017 lawsuit with former employee

Woman who alleged gender discrimination receives $400,000

By Jack Heffernan, Columbian county government and small cities reporter
Published: March 13, 2019, 9:02pm

A former Washington State Patrol employee has reached a $400,000 settlement in a gender discrimination lawsuit against the agency.

Holly Naramore resigned from her position as a commercial vehicle enforcement officer in Ridgefield in 2014 after a year on the job. Her lawsuit claimed she was subject to a hostile work environment that caused emotional, psychological and physical harm.

The lawsuit was filed in July 2017, and Naramore settled with WSP on Feb. 15. Her attorney, Mary Ruth Mann, collected the payment Monday from Clark County Superior Court.

The environment at the scale was a “man’s world,” with consistent sexual banter and discomfort toward female officers, according to the original claim. Comments included suggestions to Naramore that she was “too scrawny,” didn’t “look like a woman” and needed “to wear makeup,” and she faced questions about whether she knew how to sexually please men, the claim said.

The claim also alleged male managers at the scale house were unprepared to integrate women employees, forcing Naramore to sit and watch other officers for weeks without normal training. Later, supervisors would instruct truck drivers passing through the scales to grab Naramore and drag her into the cab of their trucks in efforts to prepare her for kidnap attempts, the claim said.

During training, Naramore was asked to fight off a 300-pound man lying on top of her, according to the complaint. She suffered a broken nose during the encounter, the complaint said.

After being pepper-sprayed during a drill, another woman was not present to guide her to a restroom to wash away the residue, according to the claim. The men who were there taunted her, encouraging her to remove her clothes to rid herself of the spray, the claim said.

WSP managers were notified about the alleged abusive behavior but ignored the reports, according to the claim. Naramore submitted her resignation in August 2014 during training and before returning to the Ridgefield scale.

In a motion filed in November, WSP denied that Naramore reported any issues to management before her resignation. Their motion also offered comments from officers who worked with Naramore that disputed her claims.

“It was only after Ms. Naramore voluntarily resigned that she notified WSP of her claims concerning gender-based harassment by line supervisors and other co-workers and injuries sustained during Control Tactics and Weapons training,” the motion read.

Naramore’s training fell in line with the rigorous training other officers complete, and she was advised during training on how to report offensive behavior, according to the state patrol. Furthermore, she had trouble picking up certain techniques, according to the motion.

“Ms. Naramore’s employment with WSP was cut short only by her own decision to abandon the difficult training program,” the motion read.

Regardless, in January, WSP offered the $400,000 settlement to Naramore, who later accepted it. In the settlement offer, WSP stated it did not admit liability.

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Columbian county government and small cities reporter