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Health Board approves $308,000 settlement with former employee

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Spokane Regional Board of Health agreed to settle with a former employee for a little more than $300,000 Tuesday, if he agreed to drop a lawsuit against the district.

Kyle Unland was the Spokane Regional Health District’s director of health promotion, until his job was eliminated by the district last February.

Before he was dismissed, he applied to become the districts next administrator, but the Board of Health, made up of local elected officials and community members, passed him over to hire current administrator Amelia Clark.


Unland sued the district, alleging he was discriminated and retaliated against for being a white man.


According to his lawsuit, he was first discriminated against when the Board of Health hired Amelia Clark, a woman he contends is less qualified than he.


Unland, who had worked at the district for 10 years was not chosen as one of the top four to be interviewed for Clark’s job. The district instead interviewed Clark, two other women and a Hispanic man.


His second complaint is that Clark, who holds the job he applied for, retaliated against him when he brought his concerns to the Human Resources department.


Unland complained to a human resources employee that he feared he was passed over for a job because of his race and gender. Soon after, according to the lawsuit, he received an email that Clark was speeding up the timeline on re-organizing the health district’s employees. His job was going to be eliminated.


Unland sued the health district last July, but his situation gained attention in November after the health district publicly fired its health officer Bob Lutz. Lutz and Clark were known to have clashed with each other.


Tuesday, almost a year after Unland was dismissed by Clark, the Health Board voted for a settlement agreement. Every member of the Board of Health except Spokane Valley City Councilwoman Linda Thompson and Naturopathic Doctor Jason Kinley voted for the settlement. Both were absent from the meeting. 


Unland will receive$308,000. Under the terms of the settlement he also must drop his lawsuit and any other legal claims and not disparage either Clark, or the Health District.

Both Unland and the Health District agreed to keep the settlement confidential. Spokane Public Radio obtained a copy through a public records request. The agreement also stipulates that it is not an admission of wrongdoing by either party.


When reached by phone Tuesday Unland’s lawyer said he could not comment, citing the settlement agreement. Mary Kuney, the chair of the Board of Health and a Spokane County Commissioner said she was not authorized to discuss the situation, saying it had "been resolved to both party’s satisfaction."

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