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Deputy files tort claim against Sheriff Staton

Claim makes allegations of hostile work environment

A chief deputy with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office has filed a tort claim notice against Sheriff Dan Staton with allegations of a hostile work environment. Dan Staton

The claim was filed by Chief Deputy Linda Yankee on Feb. 1, and outlines multiple interactions on behalf of Staton beginning in November 2014 where he would “frequently make offensive sexual comments and derogatory comments about women in front of her.” Yankee joined the sheriff’s office in 1987 and in 1990 was promoted to the rank of corrections sergeant. In 1998 she was promoted to the rank of Captain and then to Chief Deputy in March 2013.

Among the allegations is one incident where Staton described District Attorney Rod Underhill’s excitement about an issue using the metaphor, “Rod was ejaculating all over the table.”

Another incident accuses Staton of describing County Commissioner Diane McKeel’s excitement saying, “she wet herself.” When referring to McKeel's chief of staff, he allegedly referred to her as the “Blonde Bimbo.”

The claim also outlines multiple instances of fat shaming. One such instance referred to Deputy County Attorney Jenny Madkour. Staton allegedly told another executive staff member he could stop “being googly eyed over” Madkour, adding, “Have you see her lately? She gained her weight back.”

In addition to other inappropriate comments, Yankee alleged Staton frequently touched her in an inappropriate manner “and insisted on hugging Chief Deputy Yankee, while it was his custom to shake hands with her male peers.”

Troutdale absorption

In her role, Yankee reviewed the MCSO budget monthly, and said she informed Staton in October 2014 that the budget could not support the plan to absorb the Troutdale Police Department staff. Yankee reportedly said the department could only support hiring deputies, but Troutdale's staff contained four sergeants. Hiring those staff as sergeants would increase overtime shifts.

“The Sheriff answered by calling Chief Deputy Yankee 'stupid' and informing her that his plan was too complicated for her to understand,” according to the claim.

Days later at another budget briefing, Yankee again addressed the budgetary problems. Staton allegedly responded by raising his voice and berating Yankee to the point that she broke down in tears.

This conflict allegedly continued into 2015 with budget briefings to the Board of Commissioners. The claim asserts Staton accused Yankee of providing too much information to the commissioners, and at one point threatening to fire her.

“The Sheriff demanded to know how often Chief Deputy Yankee met with the individual Commissioners and what she told them,” the claim states.

In the summer of 2015, Yankee had a hip replacement surgery and took off time for recovery. When she returned, Staton allegedly told the commissioners and command team “that Chief Deputy Yankee had so many medical issues that she would not be returning to work.”

While on leave, an acting lieutenant was removed from Yankees supervision, and Yankee herself was demoted within eight weeks of returning to work.

Her recovery led to weight gain, as Yankee could not exercise, and Staton allegedly began to fat shame others in her presence as a result.

Since returning to work, Staton allegedly forbade Yankee from contacting the commissioners without a third-party representative present, and began to exclude her from meetings related to her position. On Nov. 18, 2015, Yankee says Staton replaced Yankee with an unsworn “financial professional” for budget and financial discussions.

“It is our assertion that Sheriff Staton ostracized Chief Deputy Yankee, created a hostile work environment and/or demoted Chief Deputy Yankee in whole, or in part, due to: her gender; her budget reports to the County Commissioners; and/or her use of medical leave,” the claim concludes.

Sheriff response

The MCSO has declined to comment on the pending litigation, but Staton sent an email to staff Tuesday, Feb. 2, commenting on the situation.

“I wanted to let all of you know that yesterday (Monday) I was told that a Tort Claim has been filed against me. There will be an article published which may or may not provide the specifics of the claim. There will be a lot of questions from you and I wish I could answer them now, but I have been advised by our county attorney not to respond at this time.

What I am asking of you is not to allow these allegations and what you may read to affect how we serve the public and those in our care. This agency should continue its professionalism in every aspect to include our interaction with partners and elected officials.

With this said, we have come a long way. The reputation of MCSO that has been developed is most important. I am proud of this agency, what we have accomplished and the work we have done together. When the time is appropriate I will welcome your questions.”

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