Everett settles with fired ex-cop for $89,000
EVERETT — The city recently settled a disability discrimination lawsuit with a former police lieutenant who alleged that after his off-duty drunken driving charge, he was unfairly terminated and then blackballed from vacancies within the department to restart his career.
His disability was alcoholism, and he alleges the department needed to accommodate it. After the 2015 DUI, he took treatment while on administrative leave and got sober.
The city settled with Jimmy Phillips for $89,000 in late May and reclassified his termination as a resignment and full retirement.
Phillips’ 25-year career with Everett Police unraveled during a solo trip on the road. Near Kennewick, he lost control and rolled his truck. He logged a .207 blood alcohol level, 2.5 times the legal limit.
He was put on leave soon after the August 2015 crash. His DUI required he have an ignition interlock device (a “blow-and-go,” in other words) in all vehicles he drove until fall 2016. He requested an exemption to be able to drive a city-owned vehicle without the device; the city declined.
He was later fired in February 2016 after a pre-termination Loudermill hearing. At that hearing, he offered to take an extended unpaid leave until the driving restriction was lifted.
He sought lost wages, including back pay, in a lawsuit filed in Snohomish County Superior Court, after a claim for damages with the city ended in an “impasse,” according to his attorneys.
Post-firing, and after the timeframe when he’d need an ignition interlock device expired, Phillips wasn’t selected for open positions managing the property room and in code enforcement which he alleges in court documents he should not have been passed over.
The settlement is for $79,000 in damages and $10,000 in wages, the settlement document says. The settlement concludes Phillips’ discrimination lawsuit and also closes a separate legal fight over public records disclosure; in that lawsuit, Phillips wanted documents showing where he placed among the standard police test scores used for hiring decisions. The city replied the scores weren’t produced, according to Phillips’ lawyers. A court sided with Phillips, and the city was appealing it.
Phillips and his attorney did not return requests for comment by the Tribune’s early deadline.
The city provided a written statement attributed to Police Chief Dan Templeman in response to a Tribune inquiry:
“The settlement is mutually beneficial in that it recognizes Mr. Phillips’ 30 years of service in law enforcement, while at the same time holding him accountable for his actions,” the statement reads.
“While it is never satisfying to settle a lawsuit in which you are confident that you made the right decision, it is important for the City to direct its efforts and resources toward serving its residents. This resolution allows the City to avoid the costs that could be incurred as the result of protracted litigation, and also allows Mr. Phillips to move on with his life. Mr. Phillips was a well-liked member of our department, and I appreciate his service and commitment to our community. It is paramount, however, that our officers exemplify the core values of honor, professionalism and integrity, uphold the laws we are committed to enforce, and maintain the public’s trust in our department.
By his actions and subsequent arrest, Mr. Phillips did not, and therefore I could not allow him to remain employed as a police officer in Everett.”
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