Plaintiff worked for the Yakima Police Department.?? ?Plaintiff complained about the unethical work practices of a fellow officer.?? He also complained about retaliation for making the complaints about unethical practices.? ?Plaintiff walked ?out ?of ?a ?scheduled ?meeting? concerning these complaints and shouted obscenities at his supervisors.????? ?He was suspended for insubordination, and received the loss of 24 hours of accrued paid leave. ?Plaintiff was transferred to patrol duty.
After being transferred a series of incidents led the police department to question Plaintiff?s fitness for duty. ?He was referred to a department psychiatrist for a fitness for duty examination. ?The report found that he was unfit for duty primarily due to an Axis I diagnosis of ?[m]ood [d]isorder due to a [g]eneral [m]edical [c]ondition with mixed features,? which had been caused by a prior head injury.?? ?The psychiatrist believed that the impairment was permanent. ?The doctor stated that no ?reasonable? accommodation ?could ?be? made. After a series of examinations, Plaintiff filed suit in federal court alleging a variety of state and federal claims. ?But while is claim was pending in federal court, he also filed suit in state court alleging: (1) violation? ?of? ?RCW? ?42.41.040? ?(whistleblower?retaliation), (2) wrongful discharge in violation of? public? policy, ?(3)? negligent ?hiring, supervision, and retention of Chief? ?Samuel Granato, and (4) violation of the WLAD, RCW?49.60.180.?? The federal court granted summary judgment to the employer and the state trial court subsequently did the same.?? ?The Plaintiff appealed.
The Court ruled that many of Plaintiff?s claims were foreclosed by collateral estoppel. ?In reference to? the state ?whistleblower claim, the Court found that the City of Yakima is exempt from RCW 42.41. ?The Court affirmed the public policy? tort ?claim ?because ?Plaintiff ?was terminated ?from ?employment ?because? he? was unfit? ?for? ?duty?? and? ?not? ?for? ?whistleblowing; thereby failing to prove the causation element. On the disability discrimination claim, the Court affirmed because Plaintiff failed to provide any evidence or argument that the termination for insubordination? was? pretextual.?? ?Significantly, the Court failed to include in its pretext the formulation that Plaintiff could still prevail if he could should in the alternative that illegal discrimination ?was ?a? substantial ?factor.?? ?The Court effectively held that if any of the defendant?s? reasons? were ?true,? then? plaintiff could not survive summary judgment; thereby creating the only factor standard.??? ?The accommodation claim was affirmed because Plaintiff failed to make any legal argument in his brief to support the claim.?? ?The negligent supervision and hiring claim was likewise affirmed because there existed no misconduct outside the scope of the alleged decision maker?s employment.
Brownfield v. City of Yakima, — Wn. App. —,?316 P.3d 520 (Div. II Dec. 13, 2013, published?Jan. 14, 2014) (Fearing, Kulik, Kormso)