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County pays off on same-sex marriage case

Update: April 13, 2011 Kathy L. Slater v. Douglas County

On April 13, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to pay Kathy Slater, a former Douglas County Clerk employee, $145,000 to settle a lawsuit against Douglas County.

Slater filed the suit after she was fired for requesting to be excused from processing same sex marriage applications which she said is against her religious beliefs.

The settlement came on the heels of a ruling by the ninth circuit that the county did not even explore options to accommodate Slater’s request. They also ruled that Douglas County only received 37 applications over a two year period, with each taking approximately 10 minutes, and that allowing her to exchange work to accommodate her religious rights would not have been a hardship to the county or other employees. They then forwarded the case to a jury trial.

The parties settled the Lawsuit during a judicial settlement conference with United States Magistrate Judge Mark D. Clarke on February 1, 2011 pending approval by the Commissioners. Slater will receive two checks. The first for $25,438 will cover her lost wages, and a second for $70,254 “for damages for the alleged violation of her rights and her alleged emotional distress and pain and suffering”.

The third payment of $49,308 will be paid to Brian L. Pocock, Slater’s attorney.

The county also agreed to amend Slater’s personnel file to show that her employment with Douglas County ended due to a reduction in work force and that she is eligible for rehire.