WHITE CITY, Ore. — Fire District 3 Chief Robert Horton issued a statement on Friday morning, detailing the conclusion of a labor complaint filed by former FD3 public information officer Ashley Blakely. In her complaint, Blakely claimed that she faced retaliation after reporting instances of sexual harassment perpetrated by a superior.
Blakely originally filed the complaint in October of 2018, prompting an investigation by the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). The investigation concluded in August of this year, with a BOLI investigator finding "violations of law," according to Blakely. Chief Horton said that the findings were detailed in a letter received by FD3, although he did not characterize their conclusions.
"While Fire District 3 strongly disagrees with the allegations, factual basis of the claims, and ultimate findings of the Bureau; we support the processes in place to mitigate such disputes," Chief Horton said in his statement.
Blakely said that she chose to leave FD3 rather than pursue legal action that could have lasted for several more years while she retained her position. The initial BOLI investigation alone took nearly a year to complete.
"I loved my job," Blakely told NewsWatch 12. "But I had to separate to protect my health and well-being, and to spend more time with my family."
Chief Horton said that Blakely agreed to voluntarily resign and ultimately withdraw the BOLI complaint.
"This separation was in the best interest of the organization, employee, and community to resolve this situation," Horton said. "The separation agreement amounted to one year’s salary, reimbursement of legal fees, and unpaid time off incurred, as well as some ancillary items."
By Horton's accounting, Blakely received $102,669 in leaving her position at FD3 through the mutual resolution.
"The District is grateful that a mutual resolution was achieved," Horton concluded.
Blakely underlined her love for her role at FD3, for the community they serve, and for many of the front-line firefighters that she worked with during her time at the agency, but said that she was now enjoying time with her family.
This is a developing story, and NewsWatch 12 has submitted a records request to BOLI for further information on the complaint and their findings.