A former adult foster home licenser at Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare has filed a $550,000 lawsuit against the agency alleging gender discrimination and retaliation.

Carole Purtle claims she was subjected to sexual harassment from a co-worker and that her complaints were ignored by her supervisor. She also claims she was retaliated against after reporting what she believed was the agency’s misuse of Medicaid to the state.

CBH developmental disabilities

A former employee has filed a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare.

Purtle said she resigned in March 2018 but was fired before her resignation date.

“While Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare cannot comment on any pending matters, the agency believes that all employees should be treated fairly, and we remain committed to providing a positive environment for our teams,” Michael Shipley, the communications and quality metrics coordinator for the mental health agency, wrote in an email.

Purtle was an adult foster home licenser in the agency’s intellectual and developmental disabilities program.

She claims a service coordinator at the agency regularly told her explicit details about his alleged sexual escapades, made lewd comments toward her and insinuated she was in sexual relationships with various men.

She said she complained about the co-worker’s behavior to her supervisor. She claims her supervisor took no action and instead protected the co-worker, who no longer works for the agency.

Purtle also said she reported what she considered the misuse of Medicaid to the state.

In her lawsuit, she describes a friendly relationship between the agency and KC Care LLC., a Seaside-based adult foster home provider. She said the provider frequently visited the CBH office and discussed monthly allotments to people in care. “No other provider in the area visited with the frequency or informality” of KC Care.

Purtle claims she was retaliated against, and ultimately fired, after making the reports to the state about Medicaid.

KC Care, meanwhile, is fighting to keep its licenses after the state substantiated reports of abuse and neglect. In court filings, attorneys for the provider allege Purtle helped former employees “launch a litany of unsupported investigations against KC Care.”

State investigations into abuse and neglect at adult foster homes also revealed a lack of oversight by Clatsop County, which contracted with Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare.

Last year, the state Department of Human Services nearly pulled the $1.7 million contract. In June, county commissioners voted to transfer oversight of the program to the state.

Purtle initially took her claims of gender discrimination and retaliation to the state Bureau of Labor and Industries. The state dismissed her complaint in June for insufficient evidence.

In a memo on the dismissal, the state said Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare described Purtle as having “a history of interpersonal communication problems, and that she stirred up chaos, confusion, and bitterness among her co-workers and others.”

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or nbales@dailyastorian.com.

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