Port of Seattle investigator sues employer for discrimination, retaliation

For the past decade, Tony Ramos has investigated internal complaints of discrimination and retaliation for the Port of Seattle. He now claims that by doing his job he has been the victim of exactly the same kind of misconduct – by Port.

Ramos sued Port alleged Wednesday that her employer “failed to prevent and prevent discrimination and retaliation at her hands” while seeking financial compensation and unspecified injunctive relief.

“The Port disputes the allegations made in the lawsuit and stands behind the investigative policies and procedures,” Port spokeswoman Cathy Roeder said in a statement. “The Port places the highest importance on ensuring that harassment, discrimination and retaliation have no place at the Port of Seattle.”

The lawsuit stretches back to 2018, when Ramos began investigating a complaint by a port police officer, Yandel Moss, of discrimination by his superiors, including then-Chief Rod Covey. The day Covey was informed that the investigation could lead to disciplinary action, the lawsuit claims, Covey denounced Ramos in an email to port leaders.

After Covey was reprimanded by Port for retaliating against Moss, Covey again complained about Ramos, saying that he wanted Ramos to “have anything to do with the allegations of an investigation inside the Police Department.” for” and “he brings his personal prejudice towards me.”

By that time Ramos had filed his complaint against Covey for “retaliation and race discrimination,” according to the lawsuit. Port later removed Ramos from all his duties relating to the police department.

The port hired an outside investigator who, according to the lawsuit, spent nearly seven months reviewing Covey’s complaints before investigating Ramos’ complaints, and ultimately found not responsible for the violation of port policy. The lawsuit quotes an associate of Ramos, who said, “I have serious concerns that allowed Covey to hijack the investigation process to investigate, threaten and retaliate against Ramos and all of us for violations of port policies.” Has been.”

Covey was placed on paid leave in June 2020 and fired last fall for violating port policies, with the port refusing to provide details.

“In the strongest terms, I disagree with the findings of the investigation and the decision by the port to terminate me,” he said at the time.

Covey did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, Ramos said the port denied its claims in a complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — and then shared its response with an outside attorney and a specially created port team, which led to his and Covey’s Reviewing complaints. The move left the investigation “irreversibly tainted”, the lawsuit argues, “all but instructive”. [the lawyer] and the special review team about the conclusions they should reach.”

In 2021, the port sent out an employee survey and later cited, among other findings, a “lack of protection and fear of retaliation when reporting racism and discrimination”. When Ramos shared his personal concerns in response to an invitation to respond, his superiors stated that he had disobeyed a directive, placed him on paid leave and, according to the lawsuit, “entered an agreement to terminate his employment.” for” said.

The leave was canceled after being pushed back by Ramos and he returned to work. Still, they claim, they are facing the effects of Kovi’s complaints and the port’s handling of them.

The lawsuit states that Ramos is still barred from any investigation by the Port Police. It “has received a message from the port,” it adds. “He speaks about discrimination or retaliation at his own risk.”

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