Home Depot target of discrimination lawsuit

A former employee at The Home Depot in Oak Harbor filed a lawsuit against the company.

A former employee at The Home Depot in Oak Harbor filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming discrimination and retaliation for whistleblowing, according to court documents.

The employee, Alicia Jackson, originally filed the complaint for damages against The Home Depot and manager Jeffrey Beagley in King County Superior Court in March. The judge granted a transfer of venue to Island County.

Noah Davis, the Federal Way attorney representing Jackson, wrote in the lawsuit that his client was an exemplary employee who worked her way up from cashier to assistant manager and enjoyed her job.

Prior to her termination, she confronted Beagley about another assistant manager’s sexual harassment of female employees, the lawsuit states. Beagley fired the other assistant manager, the report states, but did not appreciate Jackson’s whistleblowing; he told her that the other assistant manager was like family to him.

The claim states that Beagley was desperate to come up with an excuse to “rid himself” of Jackson after that. The opportunity came when two male employees got into a physical altercation involving a snowball. She tried to stop the confrontation before it escalated “but could have expected a physical confrontation and did not physically separate the two individuals before a punch was thrown,” the claims states.

Jackson was fired for “not stopping the fight by interposing herself between the combatants,” the attorney wrote, even though training videos directed managers not to get involved in physical confrontations between other employees.

Jackson “should not have been expected to physically separate two employees like an MMA referee and no one expected (her) to have done so,” Davis wrote.

In an answer to the claim, the attorney for The Home Depot, D. Michael Reilly of Seattle, wrote that the actions of the defendants were “done in good faith and the exercise of appropriate business judgment and discretion.” The answer states that Jackson’s termination was attributable to her own conduct.

In addition, the answer states that The Home Depot has “a clear and well-disseminated policy against discrimination and a reasonable and available procedure for handling complaints thereof, which provides for prompt and effective responsive actions.”

Attorneys for both sides were contacted by the News-Times but did not provide comments.