Ex-SeaTac Department Head Sues Over Firing
by Jack Mayne
Former SeaTac Director of the Community and Economic Development Cynthia Baker is suing SeaTac City Manager Todd Cutts as well as all seven members of the City Council to get her old job back.
Baker was fired last summer when Cutts, backed up by Human Resources Director Anh Hoang, said he had lost “faith in her abilities to manage the department” and placed her on administrative leave, then terminated her on Aug. 8.
Her federal court action, which was filed Nov. 9, demands a jury trial. The suit says Baker was originally brought in as a contactor to act as a “change agent with the understanding that it was part of her job to shake up what had become stagnant and inefficient operations.”
She worked through a probationary period and her suit says that during that time, Cutts had evaluated her twice and found her work to be “satisfactory or above in all categories.”
But by late March, Baker was told to meet with Cutts and Hoang, at which time the lawsuit says Hoang “commenced exhaustive interrogation sessions that lasted approximately 30 hours over a period of two or three weeks. At no time during these sessions was Baker told by Cutts or Hoang what if any specific issues there were with her performance or conduct; rather, they spoke only in vague generalities.”
The federal suit, filed by Seattle attorney Jon Howard Rosen, says Baker was wrongfully discharged without cause and seeks her return to her job with back pay and her legal costs, plus punitive and economic damages in an amount that would be proven in a trial.