Deschutes Co., former deputy DA settle for ‘discomfort’ over offensive mug

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A former Deschutes County Deputy District attorney received an $87,500 settlement Thursday over an offensive coffee mug and for “the discomfort she experienced during her brief employment,” according to the DA’s office.

Jasmyn Troncoso submitted her resignation letter in March last year and later filed a sex and race discrimination claim against the county, saying she was the victim of a toxic and hostile work environment while working for DA John Hummel.

In September 2020 an independent investigator dismissed the claims saying “almost all of the allegations were deemed not substantiated.”

In her initial claim, Troncoso said 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.

▶️ Former Deschutes Co. prosecutor discusses ‘toxic work environment’

According to a statement from District Attorney John Hummel, the county was unable to substantiate the name-calling allegations and the parties disagree on the details of the voicemail recording situation.

“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,” Hummel said in a statement.

Hummel said he removed the mug from the office and disciplined the employee who owned it.

In his letter of discipline, Hummel said he would have fired the employee if he believed the mug was meant to express dislike or disrespect for people of color.

“I am convinced this is not the case,” he said. “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.

Hummel said he was proud to have hired Troncoso and have her represent the county.

“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,” he said. “I wish her well.”

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