A Black corrections employee has settled her lawsuit with Multnomah County, Oregon for $100,000, following complaints about stress and racial harassment that she endured over a coworker’s “Blue Lives Matter” flag, and after she put up an “equity” wall herself.
Karimah Guion-Pledgure, who was a corrections technician with the county Department of Community Justice up until Friday, agreed to resign from her job as part of the settlement, although she will be able to reapply for other positions, her attorney Ashlee Albies told CNN.
Guion-Pledgure filed the lawsuit in January 2019, but noted that she and other Black coworkers had complained about a probation officer hanging the “Blue Lives Matter” flag in the workplace when it first went up in 2017.
In the lawsuit, Guion-Pledgure argued that the Blue Lives Matter flag “co-opts” the Black Lives Matter movement’s well-known slogan and “repurposes it to shift focus to law enforcement — a chosen profession, not a racial identity — and thus denigrates, dilutes, and demeans the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement.”
The complaint notes that Guion-Pledgure went to supervisors in late 2017 and early 2018 to complain about the flag, and also took it up to the Multnomah County chief operating officer in 2018.
By July 2018, Guion-Pledgure decided to build an “equity wall” in her workplace, showing photos of people of color killed by police in the U.S., as well as immigrant children separated from their parents at the border as a result of Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
A coworker complained about the wall the day after, prompting management to send out a order demanding that all personal photos be no larger than 5-by-7 inches. That same day, Guion-Pledgure said she found sticky notes on the equity wall reading “Thanks a lot” and “bitch.”
That same month, Guion-Pledgure took leave due to health issues that she said was a result of the harassment she faced. The lawsuit initially sought $20,000 in lost wages and $400,000 for emotional distress and suffering, CNN notes.
As part of the settlement, Guion-Pledgure will have to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, at which point the settlement will be filed with Multnomah County Circuit Court.