News of Interest

Fired police officer to get $1.65 million in settlement

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 9

VANCOUVER, WA – A former Vancouver, Wash., police officer who sued for discrimination after he was fired has reached a $1.65 million settlement with the city.

Attorneys for Navin Sharma, who was fired as a police officer in 2006, believe the amount could set a state record in an employment-related case.

“This case was outrageous and appalling,” said Seattle attorney Scott Blankenship, who represented Sharma in his lawsuit.

Attorneys for the city of Vancouver could not be reached for comment.

Blankenship said the settlement agreement was reached last week, just weeks before the trial was set to start.

Sharma became a Vancouver police officer in 1997. Trouble began for him the following year when he was called to testify against some senior officers as part of an internal affairs investigation.

Sharma’s testimony did not support those officers and, later, he said, the harassment began. By 2001, he was suing the city in federal court over the harassment. That case ended in a settlement that gave Sharma $287,000 in exchange for him dropping his claims of discrimination.

Sharma continued working for the department, but his work life went downhill following that settlement.

Superiors referred to him by racial slurs, callers left anonymous, profane voice-mail messages on his phone, he found offensive notes left on his vehicle and at least one city official had a nickname for him — Sharmageddon.

Sharma complained, but the harassment continued.

In 2006, he was fired for problems with his DUI reports. He had been accused of using the cut and paste feature to write the reports.

Sharma’s attorneys argued that other officers were also found to have committed the same error, but received far less discipline.

Sharma, who immigrated to the United States from India, argued that the harassment and his eventual termination were a result of racial discrimination.

In addition to the financial settlement, city officials have agreed to write a letter of thanks for Sharma’s service to the department, put documentation in his personnel file reflecting his good standing as an officer, and notify the Criminal Justice Training Commission that Sharma should be able to retain his law enforcement commission.

Sharma, who currently works as an emergency room trauma nurse, said he would like to get back into law enforcement, but fears his former employers may have already damaged his reputation to such an extent that becoming a cop again may prove impossible.

“I would not be surprised if they pretty much decimated my career in law enforcement,” he said.

Interest Based Bargaining – Ogden FY ’09

Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) for Ogden members for FY ’09 to begin soon…

Greetings to all Ogden UAGE members and City Employees,

UAGE sends you greetings and the hope that your summer went well. These past months have been hard and difficult for all of us, especially with the economy and it’s effects on all we do.

At UAGE we are planning for the upcoming Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) program to begin for Fiscal Year ’09. In last year’s program, some of you contacted us and were displeased as to not being always kept informed or contacted as the process proceeded. We understand your concerns and the importance of keeping you informed. There was a period of time in the process that we were obligated by the IBB group to not discuss the items being considered with our respective groups until a specific time. We hope that you understand our situation.

We are inviting your comments, concerns, questions, and needs as we prepare to deal with Wage and Benefit issues on your behalf for FY ’09. We also need input regarding the Pay For Performance (PFP) program as it progresses. What can we do to assist the process or to help you.

We look forward to hearing from you very soon!

Sincerely,

John Valdez

UAGE, Staff Representative

801-726-8657

jvaldez@uage.net

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