Ex-Angel Fire employee gets $30,000 in discrimination charge settlement

By Jesse Chaney<br />Managing editor

By Jesse Chaney<br />Managing editor

A former village of Angel Fire employee received $30,000 to drop a discrimination charge she filed against the municipality with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

This arrangement is part of an April 19 settlement agreement with Deborah Bredthauer, whose charge with the EEOC stated that she was treated differently because of her white race and disability while working for the village.

“Bredthauer hereby fully and unconditionally dismisses, releases and discharges the Village and its elected officials, officers, employees, agents and insurers, from any and all claims, charges, causes of actions, violations or demands of every kind and nature whatsoever arising to the date hereof,” the agreement states.

Bredthauer filed the EEOC charge under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act on Nov. 1, 2012. She and village representatives were involved in mediation on March 27, but they did not reach a resolution at that time.

On March 28, Bredthauer’s attorney Katherine Ferlic told the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle that her client planned to “file suit as soon as her administrative options are exhausted.”

“In cases like this, things develop, and they can develop relatively quickly,” John Day, another attorney for Bredthauer, told the Chronicle Friday (May 3). “And it settled very favorably for Mrs. Bredthauer.”

The village’s attorney Joseph Canepa said Bredthauer was paid through the New Mexico Self Insurers Fund, an insurance account administered by the New Mexico Municipal League. Village of Angel Fire officials were not involved in the decision to settle with Bredthauer, he said.

The “New Mexico Self-insurance fund approved the settlement with Ms. Bredthauer, not the Village as this was their unilateral right under their insurer rights with the Village,” Canepa said in an email to the Chronicle. “Because there was no litigation filed (only an EEOC Complaint), Village approval was not required on this settlement and release with Ms. Bredthauer.”

Ed Zendel, risk services director for the New Mexico Municipal League, confirmed that village officials were not involved in the decision to settle.

“We felt that it was in the best interest of the fund and in the best interest of the village to settle the case,” he said.

Bredthauer’s charge alleges that the discrimination took place from April 13 to September 7, 2012.

“During my employment, I was denied time off to attend physical therapy and I was treated differently than Hispanic employees who were allowed to take time off work for any reason,” Bredthauer stated in the charge. “I attempted to complain internally about the discrimination but nothing happened and I was later retaliated against by not being allowed to attend a training session and by being isolated at work.”

The charge does not specify who is responsible for the alleged discrimination, but village officials said Bredthauer worked for both the finance department and motor vehicle department during the time.

The EEOC charge states that the village had until Jan. 4 of this year to provide a statement of its position and any other supporting documentation.

On Monday (May 6), Angel Fire Clerk Terry Cordova said the village had not created a written statement on its position. She said Canepa had received the Chronicle’s official request for the supporting documents as well as Bredthauer’s personnel file.

“As it stands right now, I have not heard back from him yet,” she said.

According to the agreement with Bredthauer, the settlement “is not and shall not be construed as, an admission of fault or wrongdoing on the part of the Village.”

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act, Bredthauer was required to file a charge with the EEOC before she could sue the village for discrimination in court.