"In general we make this requirement to avoid the potential of a higher jury verdict, and the possibility of being forced to re-employ the plaintiff as a police officer," said the Deputy City Attorney, addressing council this morning.
Council voted 4-0 (Mayor Sam Adams was absent) to support the settlement in a case brought by former Portland Police Bureau recruit Nicole Whitley. Whitley's fitness to be a police officer was questioned by trainers at the Department For Public Safety Standards and Training down in Salem—owing to the size of her breasts. She was also asked by the trainers to wear coats and other layers of clothing so that her nipples would not be visible through her clothing during training. Whitley had prior breast reduction surgery and had no control over the nerves in question, said her attorneys.
"These are not proceedings that I, or any member of this council relishes having to vote on," said City Commissioner Nick Fish. "I'll say, as I've said in the past, that one of the risk factors is the potential that the city could get an adverse ruling, and in addition to being required to pay the ruling, but also the attorney fees of the plaintiff. We're considering judgment on these as custodians of limited resources."
"I am loathe to settle this lawsuit, but I do believe it is the right decision," said City Commissioner Dan Saltzman. "Unfortunately at the crux of the lawsuit are inappropriate comments made by a trainer who was not employed by the city of Portland, but by the DPSST in Salem. The Portland Police Bureau has taken steps to ensure that comments like this are not made by DPSST employees to our recruits in future."