City settles suit by former police employee

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The city has settled a lawsuit filed by its former crime analyst, Sheree Matousek, by paying her $90,000.

“This settlement is a compromise of disputed claims,” reads the agreement, which the Littleton Independent obtained via an open-records request. “No party admits any liability to the other party.”

Matousek filed a civil suit against the city last September, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and her civil rights. She was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1996, which causes her to tire in the afternoons. She was allowed to adjust her schedule accordingly until July 2009, three months after she filed an internal grievance against her supervisor, Bill Christensen, who was a police commander at the time.

The human-resources department didn’t uphold the grievance, which alleged harassment and hostile work environment. But, it noted: “It was found that Commander Christensen does at times interact with co-workers, including Ms. Matousek, in a demeaning, rude, condescending or unprofessional manner. … Such behaviors have been found to violate city policies, and an action plan has been put in place to address these performance issues.”

Matousek maintains she was subjected to retaliation for filing the grievance. In addition to being ordered to work regular business hours, she says she faced constant surveillance, frequent criticism and increased scrutiny. She ultimately filed three complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission between September 2009 and November 2010.

The department replaced her job with a website in September 2010, and her last day was Oct. 8 of that year. Coogan gave Matousek two weeks’ notice, despite the fact that her job was budgeted through the end of that year.

The settlement requires Matousek not to discuss the settlement, restricting her to just saying, “We agreed to settle the case.” But last July, she issued this statement:

“I grieve the loss of my job not only because of the financial stability, but because of the love I had for the city of Littleton. I had the privilege of working with many of the merchants, schools, citizens and other community entities. I never got the chance to tell them thank you, and that it was an honor to serve in my capacity as an analyst. I miss that so much.”

Matousek has worked some temporary jobs since leaving, but her fibromyalgia is worsening. She won’t reach retirement age until 2016, so she’s applied for disability.

Coogan, Christensen and Bill Brandt, a division chief, all retired in April under a new policy that allowed any sworn officer age 57 and older to do so, while the city will continue their health care until they turn 65.

Coogan started her own consulting company, True to Course LLC, specializing in management, investigations and human relations.

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