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County attorney files lawsuit against Spokane County Public Defender’s Office, alleges sexism and employment discrimination

FILE – The Spokane County Courthouse on  Nov. 5, 2014. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE – The Spokane County Courthouse on Nov. 5, 2014. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Brooke Hagara, the Spokane County public defender who previously filed a tort claim and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the Spokane County Public Defender’s Office for employment discrimination, officially filed a lawsuit against the county last week.

The lawsuit was filed after Hagara claims she was passed over for multiple promotions in favor of less-experienced attorneys. Her lawsuit alleges it’s because she took maternity leave last January, and was unable to fully commit to the troubled Donna Perry triple-homicide case.

The lawsuit also alleges unfair treatment by her supervisors because she’s a woman.

Hagara is seeking $500,000 in damages from the county – the amount she would have earned through retirement had she received the promotion, according to the lawsuit. Kevin Roberts, Hagara’s attorney, said the intention of the original tort claim wasn’t to seek damages via a lawsuit, but instead to have the issues Hagara alleges corrected.

Absent from the original tort claim is Hagara’s allegation that she and the office’s director, Thomas Krzyminski, had a sexual relationship while he was the director of the Counsel for Defense. When he took over as director of the public defender’s office in 2013, the relationship had ended at Hagara’s behest and, the lawsuit says, Krzyminski was “not happy about it.”

Since Krzyminski was Hagara’s supervisor, Hagara’s claim is that he acted unethically by not disclosing it or removing himself from decision making when it came to personnel matters.

Krzyminski declined to comment. County spokesman Jared Webley, speaking on behalf of Krzyminski, said it was county policy not to comment on matters pertaining to current litigation.

On Sept. 7, Krzyminski put in an application for a vacant district court judge position, which opened in late June after Judge Sara Derr retired. In his application, Krzyminski didn’t mention the tort claim under the section which asks, “Have you ever been a party in interest, witness, or consultant in any legal proceeding?”

“If someone is being appointed to district court judge, county commissioners and the public should know everything relevant about that position,” said Roberts, Hagara’s attorney. “If someone is being accused of the type of discrimination he’s being accused of, it should certainly be considered.”

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