Woman who complained about ‘Blue Lives Matter’ flag gets $100K
An African-American employee who claimed she was subject to stress and racial harassment after she complained about a coworker’s “Blue Lives Matter” flag and after she put up an “equity wall” has settled her lawsuit with an Oregon county, her attorney said Friday.
As part of the $100,000 agreement, Karimah Guion-Pledgure resigned from her job with the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice, her attorney, Ashlee Albies, said in an email.
Guion-Pledgure, who was a corrections technician until Friday, can reapply for other positions, Albies said.
In a lawsuit filed in January 2019, Guion-Pledgure says she and other black coworkers initially complained when a probation officer hung a “Blue Lives Matter” flag in the workplace in 2017.
Guion-Pledgure, who had been with the county since 2011, maintains that the Blue Lives Matter flag “co-opts” the Black Lives Matter movement’s slogan, and “repurposes it to shift focus to law enforcement — a chosen profession, not a racial identity — and thus denigrates, dilutes, and demeans the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement,” according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by CNN.
Guion-Pledgure complained to supervisors in late 2017 and early 2018 and voiced her objections about the flag with the Multnomah County chief operating officer in April 2018, according to the complaint.
In July 2018, Guion-Pledgure established an “equity wall” in the workplace, the lawsuit says.
The equity wall also included photographs of people of color killed by police in the United States and photos of immigrant children separated from their parents at the border due to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance policy,” the suit said.
A coworker complained the day after the wall was decorated, and management issued a directive that all personal photographs be no larger than 5-by-7 inches, according to the lawsuit. The same day management’s directive was issued, Guion-Pledgure found sticky notes on her equity wall that said, “Thanks a lot” and “Bitch,” the suit said.
Guion-Pledgure went on leave in July 2018 due to health issues she says were caused by those events, according to the complaint. She initially sought $20,000 in lost wages and $400,000 for emotional distress and suffering.
The settlement will be filed with Multnomah County Circuit Court when Guion-Pledgure files a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which is also a term of the settlement, county spokeswoman Jessica Mokert-Shibley told CNN.
Multnomah County officials are withholding further comment until those legal proceedings are complete, Mokert-Shibley said. “This is expected to happen sometime next week.”
Portland is the county seat of Multnomah County.