Ex-City Manager Mike Martin at a 2009 Burien City Council meeting.[/caption] By Jack Mayne Former Burien City Manager Mike Martin is under investigation in Lynden, Whatcom County, after three female department heads accused him of gender discrimination. The three women are seeking $3.85 million in damages, calculated based on the wages and benefits they would have earned had they stayed and retired as planned, plus claims for emotional distress. All three women say in the complaint that Martin created a hostile work environment. The Bellingham Herald reported Thursday (June 16) that the investigation is expected to be completed by July 1. Martin told the Bellingham paper he is “very confident truth will prevail.” Elected Mayor Scott Korthuis hired Martin, who started in August 2013 at a salary of $120,000. Martin left his position with the City of Burien in June, 2013. Korthuis would not comment on the allegations against Martin nor would he address why Martin was not on leave while the investigation is underway, the Bellingham Herald reported. “I’m going to hold off on any comments regarding this until that investigation is complete,” Korthuis said. He an elected mayor whose term expires in December 2017. Longtime employees Amy Harksell, Lynden’s planning director and a 24-year city employee, resigned Friday, June 10, and has filed a claim against the city, the mayor and Martin. That is “a legal move that is a precursor to a lawsuit,” wrote Herald reporter Kyle Mittan. Apparently former Finance Director Teresa Camfield and former Human Resources Manager Linda Peterson have joined in the claim alleging gender discrimination. The news story said the claim was provided by Lynden officials to the in response to a records request filed by The Bellingham Herald. Lynden officials say “more documents will be released” but it was unspecified in the story what those documents may contain. Camfield and Peterson both retired in June 2014, the claim says. Camfield had been at the city for 17 years and Peterson for nearly seven. Their retirements came about two years earlier than anticipated, the claim says. Former Planning Director Harksell had been on medical leave for about a month prior to her resignation. The Bellingham paper said her doctor recommend she take the leave due to her ‘physical and emotional reaction to the stress of the ongoing discrimination and retaliation against her.’” The three women all claim Martin dismissed their work or expertise, often requiring a male employee to back up their account before the information would be accepted. Both Camfield and Peterson say Martin criticized them for working past working hours even though they were salaried and not hourly workers. At the same time, the women said male employees were allowed to use their own judgment about when to leave, the Herald reports the claim says. ‘Wear the boot’ The three women’s complaint says that at one of the first Lynden staff meetings, former Burien City Manager Martin allegedly told department heads they could either “lick the boot or wear the boot.” The statement, the claim said, made clear “that he planned to ‘wear the boot.’” The Bellingham newspaper story said the complaint alleges that in a meeting with department heads in late October 2013, Martin told a story about “Noreen,” a girl he knew in high school whom he “hated” because she was “too smart” and “had all the answers,” the claim says, adding that Martin told the story while looking at Camfield and Harksell. The claim says Martin regularly referred to Harksell as “Noreen” afterward. In Peterson’s statement, the former human resources manager says Martin asked her to prepare a panel interview for an open information technology position. After looking over the materials that Peterson prepared, her claim says, Martin dismissed her and conducted the interview himself without using her materials. Camfield’s statement also says she began asking for a third employee to sit in on meetings between her and Martin, and that she would spend “inordinate amounts of time” crafting what should have been simple emails to Martin to avoid writing something he “could twist and use against her later.” Camfield says she told Korthuis about Martin’s behavior in October 2013, according to the claim reported by the Bellingham Herald. “I hired him and I have to stand behind him,” she said Korthuis responded, according to the claim. Camfield said she once again brought up her concerns in an exit interview with Korthuis, as did Peterson. Neither was aware of any investigation into their complaints at the time, the claim says. Read our extensive, previous coverage of Martin here.]]>