Former Superior Court Staffer Alleges Workplace Harassment by Judge

By Natalie Johnson /

A former deputy court administrator for Lewis County Superior Court has filed a lawsuit against Lewis County, alleging workplace harassment by a recently retired Superior Court judge. 

“During her employment Judge (Richard) Brosey of the Superior Court subjected Plaintiff to a hostile work environment based on her gender,” the complaint, filed Aug. 2 in Thurston County Superior Court by Janet Gordon, reads. “He would refer to her as ‘that counter gal,’ or ‘that d— counter gal.’”

The suit also claims that Brosey addressed other female court employees in a similar fashion, referring to women as “witch,” or “b—.”

“He frequently lost his temper and yelled at female staff in particular,” the complaint reads. 

Gordon worked in Lewis County Superior Court from 2006 to February 2015. She was most recently the deputy court administrator. 

The lawsuit asks for lost wages and unspecified damages. 

Lewis County is being represented by Suzanne Michael, of Michael & Alexander in Seattle. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Gordon is represented by the Law Office of Julie Oberbillig, in Olympia. Oberbillig did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Brosey was a Lewis County Superior Court judge from July 1998 to January 2017, when he retired. He was a full-time court commissioner for four and a half years before being appointed by Gov. Gary Locke to the Superior Court position.

According to Gordon’s lawsuit, in June 2014 she alerted Brosey’s fellow Superior Court Judges James Lawler and Nelson Hunt that she planned to file a formal complaint against Brosey with Lewis County’s human resources department. 

Hunt also retired in January. Lawler was re-elected and began his new term in January. 

According to the complaint, Hunt advised Gordon that if she filed the complaint it would “‘set off a bomb,’ and things would never be the same.”

After that conversation, Gordon was reportedly reassigned to report to Judge Lawler, rather than Brosey, the complaint states. 

Gordon filed her complaint with Lewis County’s human resources staff on June 9, 2014, and HR began investigating. 

“Following her June 9 complaint, Ms. Gordon was subjected to abusive, hostile and retaliatory treatment — particularly by her supervisor, Susie Parker, who was known to be very close with Judge Brosey,” according to the lawsuit. 

Gordon also reported that, after years of being praised for her work, she received numerous letters informing her of poor performance. 

A few months after her complaint, in November 2014, Gordon received a negative job evaluation. 

She responded to the evaluation, asking for an explanation on its results given her previous positive reinforcement from supervisors, according to the complaint. 

“The deleterious effects on Plaintiff’s mental and physical health were too onerous for plaintiff to continue in that work environment,” the complaint reads. 

Gordon resigned in February 2015 after reporting that she experienced continued retaliation to Lewis County HR.

A trial-setting hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 1 in Thurston County Superior Court.