Northwest NEWS

July 13, 1998

Front Page

Lawsuit payments had little impact on Duvall budget, says finance director

   by Lisa Allen
   Valley View Editor

   DUVALL--Payments made by the city to settle two recent lawsuits have had only a slight impact on the budget, according to city Finance Director Kevin Brenner.
   Earlier this year, the city paid $50,000 to Sara Barry, former Administrative Assistant to the Mayor. Barry also received another $57,000 paid by Cities Insurance of Washington, the town's insurance company.
   Last year $15,000 was paid to Mary Laird, a Duvall accounting clerk, as part of settlement terms. There was no information available on whether Laird received further funds that were covered by insurance. The insurance company also paid the town's legal fees.
   Both had sued the city and Mayor Glen Kuntz in separate actions in April of 1996. Barry claimed discrimination and harassment after her job was eliminated in October of '95.
   She claimed she was the victim of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment caused by Kuntz and then Police Director Jim Bourasa. Bourasa is now city director.
   She also alleged she was paid less than her male counterparts in the city.
   Barry's case was settled on the eve of trial early last December, but payment wasn't made until after the first of the year, she said.The city was also sanctioned by the judge in the case for not producing discovery documents in a timely manner.
   City attorney Gerald Moberg said both the mayor and Bourasa denied any wrongdoing.
   But Barry claimed there was a pattern of sexual harassment by the mayor and Bourasa that consisted of "unwanted touching, sexually explicit remarks, innuendoes, display of nude pictures in the workplace, vulgar and offensive comments and sexually explicit signs."
   Barry had been Administrative Assistant to the Mayor since 1976. She said she complained to her co-workers but not to Kuntz, since "he was the one engaging in the offensive conduct directed at her and other women employees."
   She said she feared retaliation.
   Laird, who was city treasurer and a senior employee, was also let go without warning in October of 1995 by Kuntz, who told her and Barry their jobs were being eliminated due to budget cuts. Laird was rehired the following January as a part-time accounts clerk. In her lawsuit, she claimed age and sex discrimination.
   Barry claimed in her suit that on Oct. 22, Kuntz told her that her position was being cut to three days a week.
   Three days after telling Kuntz that a cut in hours was not acceptable, Barry was fired.
   Part of her responsibilities were then assigned to Bourasa, lawsuit papers said.
   In the lawsuits, both Barry and Laird sought reinstatement, back pay, damages and attorneys fees.
   Barry lives in Issaquah and now works as a special projects coordinator for the city of North Bend.