In a settlement released Thursday, the district did not admit to any wrongdoing but agreed to pay the $500,000 settlement to a former employee who said her boss discriminated and retaliated against her.
Seattle Public Schools will pay a former employee and her attorneys $500,000 after she complained that she faced a work environment so hostile she was forced to quit the district’s athletic department in 2016.
Krystyana Brame served the school district with a legal complaint in June, alleging that her former boss, Executive Director of Athletics Eric McCurdy, discriminated and retaliated against her and made sexually explicit comments on the job.
In a settlement released Thursday, the district did not admit to any wrongdoing but agreed to pay the $500,000 settlement. The district confirmed the settlement but did not offer further comment by press time. McCurdy, who is still listed as a district employee online, did not respond to an email seeking comment. Part of the payout will come from the Washington School Risk Management Pool, the district’s insurance service.
Brame’s attorney, Scott Blankenship, praised the settlement. “She wants to be an example that you should stand up for yourself and fight and not give up,” he said of Brame.
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Brame began working for the school district in 2001 and started in Seattle Public Schools’ athletic department in 2004. Brame’s complaint alleges that beginning around 2010, McCurdy created a “sexually and racially offensive hostile working environment.”
In the complaint, Brame said McCurdy told her she had been “lazy since she got married,” instructed her to “feed your husband and son, put them to bed and get back to work and your emails,” and called her a “fat white girl.” Brame also said McCurdy threatened her job and retaliated against her. Brame left the district in March 2016.
In a district investigation completed after Brame left, McCurdy denied making nearly all of the comments. (In a few instances, he said he had made comments to another person in private conversations outside work, according to the investigation.) The investigation found that McCurdy had not violated a board policy against harassment, intimidation and bullying, but had “made inappropriate comments and used inappropriate language in the workplace,” Clover Codd, an assistant superintendent in human resources, wrote in a June 2016 letter to Brame.
About a month later, Deputy Superintendent Stephen Nielsen wrote to Brame that McCurdy had in fact violated the district’s policy against harassment, intimidation and bullying. Nielsen wrote that McCurdy’s supervisor was working with him to change his behavior. He promised to “continue to monitor the situation” to make sure all department staff members are treated fairly.
In her complaint, Brame sought policies to “provide equal employment opportunities for all employees” in addition to compensation. The settlement does not include any promised policy changes from the school district. Brame requested that the settlement be public, rather than confidential, Blankenship said.
“She felt like somebody in a position of power was getting protected for being in a position of power …” he said. “She did not want this brushed under the rug.”