Wrongful Termination, Defamation Case: Former Edmonds’ HR Chief Awarded $1M

Edmonds’ long-time HR chief, Debi Humann, filed suit claiming that the mayor wrongfully fired and defamed him after her scrutiny into the pay rate and number of hours worked by Mayor Mike Cooper’s executive assistant. A federal jury awarded the former Edmonds city HR chief over $1M.

Ms. Humann was the director of human resources for the city of Edmond for 12 years until she was fired by ex-mayor Cooper in September of 2011. Her suit against the mayor and the city of Edmond in 2013 claimed small town political corruption. The trial took place in U.S. District Court in Seattle in front of a 10-member jury. They agreed, after a three week trial, to award Ms. Humann $1,035,351 in damages upon concluding that her termination was in violation of public policy and in violation of the 1st Amendment. They also concluded that the mayor was guilty of defamation of Ms. Humann to the media.

Consequently, she was awarded over $500,000 in back pay and future income as well as $500,000 for damage done to her reputation and distress due to defamation of her character.

Cases of wrongful termination are commonplace in today’s workplace. The complete number of employment law based suits has increased by 400% over the last 20 years. Of those lawsuits, over 40% are filed against employers who employ between 15 and 100 employees.

If you have questions or concerns about wrongful termination or defamation get in touch with the southern California employment law experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik as soon as possible.