Former HR Director files federal lawsuit
Debi Humann, long‐time Human Resources Director for the City of Edmonds, filed a complaint recently in federal court against the City of Edmonds and former Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper.
Cooper fired Ms. Humann in September 2011 after she confronted him about payroll irregularities involving his executive assistant, Kimberly Cole.
The complaint alleges that Cooper and the City violated Ms. Humann’s constitutional rights and defamed her when Cooper made negative comments about her character and job performance in connection with her termination.
She contends that the mayor knowingly made false statements to the media to protect his own reputation and to punish Ms. Humann for cooperating in a Washington State Auditor’s Office investigation into the controversy surrounding his assistant.
Mayor Cooper issued statements, which were republished in local news media.
He justified his decision to terminate Ms. Humann by stating that his “level of trust” in her had “deteriorated to a place where [he] no longer had confidence in her ability to do the job and to work effectively with [him].”
A few days later, Mayor Cooper told the Seattle Times that there “had been a breakdown in trust” between him and Ms. Humann.
According to Ms. Humann’s complaint, the mayor’s statements falsely implied that Ms. Humann was untrustworthy, did not maintain confidentiality, did not work effectively, and was not committed to serving the City.
Ms. Humann alleges that, due to the stigma that has resulted from these statements, her reputation in the community has been damaged and she has been unable to find a new job in the human resources field.
In January 2012, the City released an investigation report clearing Ms. Humann of any wrongdoing concerning her role in the timesheet investigation.
Ms. Humann filed a whistleblower complaint now pending in administrative court in which she claims she was fired for attempting to stop improper payroll practices.
She has requested a jury trial, which will be heard by Presiding Judge Marsha J. Pechman.
Ms. Humann is represented by Cliff Freed, Beth Barrett Bloom, and Christie J. Fix of Frank Freed Subit & Thomas, in Seattle.
For more information see, Debi Humann v. City of Edmonds and Michael Cooper, Case No. 2:13‐cv‐00101‐MJP, United States District Court, Western District of Washington.