Nine months after being fired from her job as a King County Sheriff's deputy, Angela Holland, disputing the termination, filed suit against King County in King County Superior Court on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
Holland, a veteran deputy with numerous commendations, was fired after she revealed to the department in 2004 that she suffered from bipolar disorder, a form of mental illness. As reported in the Seattle Weekly (See "Good Cop, Sad Cop," March 30), Holland's work performance was not affected by her illness. But the King County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) forced her to go to a string of psychologists and psychiatrists until, the department said, she was found unfit for duty by Kathleen Decker, a Bellevue psychiatrist. Holland was medically terminated last November.
Since then, Holland says she has been unable to find permanent employment in or out of law enforcement. At issue, she says, is her diagnosis and her unwillingness to hide the truth. "I was honest, which got me into trouble," says Holland. "As it's played out, honesty isn't the way to go."
Holland has been forced to withdraw her pension savings and rely on part-time work to make ends meet. "They ruined my career," says Holland, 31, who has been a cop since she was 21. She says she feels as though she has been branded as unemployable for life as a result of the KCSO's actions against her. Her lawsuit against King County alleges that the KCSO was negligent in firing her, violated Washington state antidiscrimination laws, violated civil service protections, and violated state public disclosure laws.
In the run-up to the lawsuit, Jeff Herman, Holland's lawyer, made requests for records relating to Holland's case that, he says, the department did not release, which would be in violation of state law.
KCSO spokesperson Sgt. John Urquhart said the department had no comment on the lawsuit, as it is an ongoing case. Ironically, Urquhart is Holland's former patrol supervisor.