Discrimination lawsuit filed against borough, Mayor Pierce

The former human resources director for the Kenai Peninsula Borough filed a discrimination lawsuit against the borough and Mayor Charlie Pierce on Monday, according to documents filed with the Kenai court.

Sandra Brown alleged that she experienced disability discrimination by Pierce following her diagnosis with terminal breast cancer. According to the lawsuit, Brown received her diagnosis on May 24, 2018 and notified Pierce on June 13, 2018, after being approved for intermittent medical leave.

In the court documents, Brown alleges that Pierce’s response to the news about her diagnosis included inappropriate comments that implied her diagnosis was “not a big deal.”

Brown also claims that in the months after notifying Pierce and the borough about her diagnosis, Pierce excluded her from meetings pertaining to her job, publicly humiliated her, and rescheduled her performance evaluation on dates when Brown had approved medical leave, according to court documents.

Brown alleges that the discrimination culminated in a meeting with Pierce’s chief of staff on Sept. 28, 2018, and that she had been lied to about the purpose of the meeting. After arriving, Brown alleges, the chief of staff and the borough attorney told her that the meeting had actually been called at the direction of the mayor — who had ordered them to meet and notify Brown that she was terminated, effective immediately.

Brown was the director of human resources for the borough from 2012 to 2018, and Pierce was elected as borough mayor in November of 2017.

The mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comments on the lawsuit.

• By BRIAN MAZUREK, Peninsula Clarion