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Ex-Deschutes prosecutor who alleged ‘toxic’ race, sex discrimination agrees to $87,500 settlement

Jasmyn Troncoso
KTVZ file
Jasmyn Troncoso

(Update: Adding Troncoso comments on Facebook posting)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A former Deschutes County deputy district attorney who sued the county, alleging race and sex discrimination and a "toxic sex- and race-based hostile work environment," has reached an $87,500 settlement with the county, District Attorney John Hummel announced late Thursday.

A Portland attorney representing Jasmyn Troncoso, who was hired in 2019, filed the tort claim notice a year ago, alleging sex and race discrimination during her employment, which began in the summer of 2019. She resigned two weeks before the notice of intent to sue was filed.

Troncoso alleged her co-workers bullied her, told her she was unqualified and a drama queen, accused her of having affairs and was ridiculed for speaking Spanish.

The office hired an investigator who found all but one allegation were not substantiated. The only substantiated claim was that mug with offensive language on it was on the desk of an employee, who was suspended for five days without pay as a result.

After the report was released, Troncoso expressed disappointment but not surprise at the findings, as her lawyer, Matthew Ellis, disputed the independent nature of the investigation, calling it "hugely biased."

In a brief, separate statement Thursday, Deschutes County said: "The County will pay $87,500 to Ms. Troncoso for release of liability related to her allegations of racial and gender-based discrimination during her employment with the Deschutes County District Attorney's office, which ended when she resigned in 2020."

Troncoso detailed her allegations in a posting Thursday to NewsChannel 21's Facebook page, and wrote, "Rest assured, the mug was such a small part of a much larger problem that it wasn't even discussed in the settlement."

Asked what charity she was donating the settlement funds to, Troncoso replied, "I actually started a company that delivers educational healing material to Central and South Americans who suffer from sexual and domestic violence. That is where the money will be going. I wouldn't ever sue for a pay day..."

Here's Thursday's full news release from Hummel's office:

Today, Deschutes County Commissioners, District Attorney John Hummel, and former deputy district attorney Jasmyn Troncoso reached an agreement that fairly compensates Ms. Troncoso for the discomfort she experienced during her brief employment with Deschutes County.  The County and Ms. Troncoso agreed on a compensation amount of $87,500, which includes her attorney fees.

After Ms. Troncoso submitted her resignation letter in early 2020, she notified the County that during her employment with the County, co-workers called her offensive names; that on one occasion a few of her co-workers advocated for one of their Spanish speaking colleagues to record the office voicemail greeting in Spanish; and that one employee had in her cubicle a coffee mug with an offensive message. 

The County was unable to substantiate the name calling allegations (Ms. Troncoso did not provide the names of the people who allegedly insulted her), and the parties disagree on the details of the voicemail recording situation.  The parties agree that the offensive mug was in an employee’s cubicle and that the mug should never have been brought into the office.  Very few employees know about the mug and no member of the management team knew about it.

Because the mug was offensive, because Ms. Troncoso saw it when she worked in the office and was rightfully bothered by it, and because she experienced stress and discomfort as a result of observing the mug, the County chose to compensate her and take steps to ensure something like this never happens again. 

The compensation was agreed to today.  The steps to ensure something like this never happens again began immediately after District Attorney Hummel was informed about the mug. Hummel removed the mug from the office and disciplined the employee who owned it.  In his letter of discipline, Hummel wrote:

Every person served by our office deserves to be respected, valued, and treated with dignity.  What is in our heart is irrelevant, if our actions convey dismissiveness, hate, or disrespect.  * * * Your intent is important, but not the only consideration.  If I felt you maintained the mug in the office to express your dislike and/or disrespect for people of color, people from other countries, and/or people living with intellectual disabilities, I would fire you.  I am convinced this is not the case.  However, this investigation brought to light that you had a blind spot for how your actions had the potential to hurt other people.  You also had a blind spot for the reality that the mug posed a significant risk of conveying to our colleagues and the public that our office does not embrace diversity, and does not strive to treat all people equally, when just the opposite is true.    

Statement from District Attorney Hummel:

“I hired Jasmyn and was proud to have her represent me and the State of Oregon.  I hope that the compensation we are providing her will help her heal and thrive as she moves forward in her personal and professional future.  I wish her well.”

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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