Lawsuit against Sheriff's Office settled
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2012
11/29/12 at 4:50 AM
The lawsuit of a former Tulsa County detention officer who claimed to have been fired in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act has been settled for $24,000, according to a document filed this week in Tulsa federal court.
Patty S. Yocham, 53, of Kellyville stated in the lawsuit, which originally was filed in Tulsa County District Court on April 25, that she was injured on the job on March 4, 2007. She said the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office subsequently failed to reasonably accommodate her disabilities and injuries before her employment was terminated on May 19, 2009.
Yocham required two back surgeries as a result of her injury - one on July 20, 2007, and another on Aug. 11, 2008 - and returned to work "off and on" with restrictions after each surgery, the lawsuit says.
She returned to work on March 19, 2009, and was moved from weekday shifts to weekend and evening shifts, which she believed to be "harassment and retaliation" by the Sheriff's Office, her court filing says.
Yocham claimed that, while her physician had indicated she was to have no contact with inmates, the Sheriff's Office made no effort to assign her to a position in which she could avoid them.
In a June 28 filing, the Sheriff's Office countered that Yocham was accommodated based on her medical restrictions but "abandoned" her job because it was not the position she wanted.
Decisions regarding Yocham were made for "legitimate business reasons," and there was no retaliation or discrimination, the defense said in the filing.
Yocham's lawsuit said she wrote a letter to a Sheriff's Office human resources manager on April 1, 2009, advising that she could not return to work at the Tulsa Jail's reception desk because of the contact with inmates that the assignment required.
The lawsuit says she didn't receive a response until receiving her termination letter, which was dated May 19, 2009.
The case, which was shifted to federal court in May, was resolved as the result of a Nov. 5 settlement conference, according to a court document.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan signed a judgment in which $16,000 will go to Yocham and $8,000 will go to Jean Walpole Coulter & Associates Inc., the law firm that represented Yocham.
Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz and the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office are "in no way admitting any liability or fault," and the defense settled the case "to avoid the costs of further litigation and expenses," the document states.
David Harper 918-581-8359