Board of Supervisors may settle suit with Gail Wilcox

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday told its attorneys to settle the sexual harassment lawsuit brought against it by former Assistant County Administrator Gail Wilcox for $180,000.

In exchange, they are asking Wilcox to provide a complete release of claims and dismiss her lawsuit against the county and former County Administrative Officer David Edge.

While an announcement issued by the board Tuesday night did not explicitly say that Wilcox had agreed to the settlement, county Supervisor Bruce Gibson said “we have every expectation that it will settle with those terms.”

Wilcox filed her suit last June against the supervisors and Edge, claiming she was a victim of sexual harassment, retaliation, discrimination, a hostile work environment and breach of contract.

Both Edge and Wilcox were fired after a controversy exploded over their work relationship. E-mails between the pair showed how they engaged in bantering about Wilcox’s dating, often with sexual innuendo.

On July 14, the board fired Wilcox “based on her participation in a personal relationship that conflicted with her official duties.” Supervisors did not identify the other person in the relationship.

However, on July 29, an investigative report on Wilcox — called the Robertson Report after its author — was released. It confirmed an allegedly improper relationship between Wilcox and Tony Perry of the Deputy Sheriffs Association when the two were involved in collective bargaining, Wilcox representing management and Perry the union. Perry resigned Aug. 5 as executive director of the Deputy Sheriffs Association.

In announcing the settlement, the supervisors denied any wrongdoing in firing Wilcox. They said they had “a strong, defensible case,” but going to trial would have cost more than $1 million. County Counsel Warren Jensen noted that the county had already spent $337,000.

In addition, staff time would have been diverted from other important issues, the board wrote in a news release.

Jensen said the settlement covers all claims, including Wilcox’s costs and attorneys’ fees.

Tribune Managing Editor Tad Weber contributed to this report.