A former Assistant Cook County Sheriff’s Department is given $ 350,000 to drop a lawsuit alleging she experienced sexual discrimination at work.
The Cook County’s Board of Commissioners on Nov. 23 agreed to pay Julie Collman, the sheriff’s former assistant deputy, in settlement after she filed a sexual discrimination lawsuit.
Collman originally filed her complaint against Cook County and Chief Deputy Will Sandstrom in September 2020. The complaint alleges that Sandstrom “routinely lost control of Collman and acted verbally abusive”.
The complaint continues: “Around 2015 and 2016, Collman confronted Sandstrom with his behavior, telling him that she felt he was targeting her because she was a female surrogate in a predominantly male division. Collman told Sandstrom that she believed he thought he could get away with picking on her … Sandstrom’s harassment increased after Collman raised her concerns. “
Collman was hired as a deputy to the Cook County Sheriff’s Department in 2004. The complaint states that she was the principal investigator into sexual behavior and the principal investigator into child protection and vulnerable adult cases.
During the majority of her tenure in the county, Collman was the only full-time female deputy in the Cook County Sheriff’s office, according to the complaint. On May 9, 2019, Collman resigned her position as deputy in the sheriff’s department “due to the unbearable working conditions”.
In a statement sent to WTIP on November 23, Cook County attorney Molly Hicken wrote, “The Cook County Board of Directors today approved the settlement of a sexual discrimination lawsuit by former employee Julie Collman. Cook County was represented in the lawsuit by attorney Kendra Olson, who recommended settlement as a better and safer outcome than litigation.
In return for the release of claims against the county related to her previous employment, Collman agreed to a payment of $ 350,000. The Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust contributed $ 225,000 to the total. During the discussion of the application for approval of the agreement, the commissioners referred to the preference to reduce the risk and thereby serve the best interests of the county and the organization. “
WTIP asked Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen if Sandstrom had been disciplined over Collman’s allegations. WTIP also asked district officials if Sandstrom is undergoing any special training based on the lawsuit and allegations made by Collman. The county officials declined to comment on the issues.
In July 2018, Collman and Sandstrom took part in mediation on the recommendation of Eliasen, according to the complaint. Court documents say the mediation ended with a plan that required Sandstrom to initiate weekly one-on-one meetings with Collman. Sandstrom never carried out the mediation plan and his hostile behavior towards Collman did not improve, according to the complaint.
The case was due to go to jury on December 13th. No lawsuit is required after the $ 350,000 settlement.
The audio below shows Cook County Chairman Dave Mills describing the settlement during the November 23rd session.