Another dispatcher files claims for damages - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Another dispatcher files claims for damages

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Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — A third dispatcher has filed a claim for damages against Bonner County for allegedly allowing a hostile work environment to fester in its 911 call center.

Evie Dougherty alleges in a tort claim that she and other aggrieved dispatchers met with county Commissioner Mike Nielsen last fall in an attempt to address the working environment in the call center, but the effort made the situation more toxic.

Dougherty said in the claim that once directors and supervisors learned of meeting, “the environment worsened substantially.”

Dougherty said supervisors retaliated by segregating her and making disparaging remarks about her.

Supervisors also made punitive changes to her training routines and work shifts, the claim alleges.

The claim was filed on Aug. 13, about four months after former dispatcher Kellie Brownell and senior dispatcher Diana Elsfelder filed strikingly similar claims against the county.

Each of the claims seek $250,000 in damages for lost wages, loss of reputation in the community, and pain and suffering.

Bonner County officials do not comment on pending tort claims, which serve as a notice of intent to sue.

If the county declines to honor the claims, the claimants would be permitted to seek damages in 1st District Court.

County commission meeting agendas suggest an internal investigation into the dispatchers’ allegations was initiated, although the report has not been made public and the board’s discussions were held behind closed doors during executive sessions.

The probe reportedly concluded that most the allegations were unsubstantiated, although supporters of the claimants contend it was biased because it was overseen by the director of the dispatch center.

A common thread in the claims is the turnover rate at the call center, which the claimants contend has been 47 percent for the past four years. They assert that the national turnover rate is fewer than 20 percent and attribute the higher turnover here to a toxic work environment.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • bigtrouble posted at 1:49 am on Tue, Sep 17, 2013.

    bigtrouble Posts: 1


  • WML posted at 8:34 am on Mon, Aug 26, 2013.

    WML Posts: 665

    I totally agree with both Jaake and Ormons. Let's avoid law suits if possible but we need to get to the bottom of this.

    Bill Litsinger

  • Ormons posted at 8:13 am on Mon, Aug 26, 2013.

    Ormons Posts: 19

    What could be more mature than meeting directly with the top person, Commissioner Nielsen, in an attempt to improve the working environment at the 911 center? If the meeting was last fall, it sounds as if the parties made the attempt to work out the issues, gave the parties involved over six months, and then over ten months to make positive changes but have not experienced improvement. It would seem the conditions worsened. Then the investigation was conducted by the person who had the greatest interest in not finding any problems - are you kidding me? Where is the investigation report? Why is it kept from the public?

    I couldn't agree more with the importance of the 911 dispatch center. What I don't understand is why Bonner County citizen taxpayers and law enforcement personnel are not OUTRAGED that the situation has not been corrected and improved. If you think these lawsuits are excessive - wait until the lawsuits start flying when an officer or citizen is killed or injured stemming from incompetence or inexperience via the center, particularly since the commissioners were noticed of multiple problems.

  • Jaake posted at 7:03 am on Sat, Aug 24, 2013.

    Jaake Posts: 231

    The 911 call center serves as an extremely important service, I would hope that all parties involved could show a level of maturity, and work out the issues at hand, with out lawsuits and hurt feelings.

  • WML posted at 2:37 pm on Fri, Aug 23, 2013.

    WML Posts: 665

    The Dispatch Center has had problems with morale, turnover and leadership since the Jarvis days.

  • Rhonda posted at 10:12 am on Fri, Aug 23, 2013.

    Rhonda Posts: 141

    Sounds like the turnover at CWC.