Former court worker paid by Snohomish County to settle lawsuit

$85,000 has been paid by Snohomish County to a former court worker after she agreed not to file a civil lawsuit alleging that her demotion was retaliation for cooperation with a 2005 state investigation of a judge.

Sherree Marler, who had worked for that court for 26 years, filed a claim against the county, saying that her employment was “terminated” without notice in retaliation for her testimony before the state Judicial Conduct Commission. A lawsuit was prepared, but she continued to negotiate with the county and didn’t file it, according to her lawyer, Jean Huffington of Seattle.

And agreement was reached by Marler and the county in November, and the county paid Marler the money last month, Huffington said.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Steven Bladek said that any claim can be a risk to an employer.

“It was determined, as a business decision, this is the best course of action for the county,” Bladek said.

According to the settlement papers, the county didn’t admit any wrongdoing. The payment means that the two “are finally, fully and fairly settling” the issues between them.

According to Marler’s 2007 claim, there was nothing about her job performance that warranted ending her employment as supervisor, and she had been given continuous positive feedback on her performance.

Her claim also stated that her last performance review, in January 2006, was the only one that was not entirely positive. The review set goals for her, “which she successfully and demonstrably completed by June 2006,” it said.

Marler alleged that she was punished because she cooperated with the commission’s investigation of Judge Timothy Ryan, who was given a reprimand in 2005 by the commission, a judicial watchdog organization that investigates complaints and questionable conduct of judges.

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