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Michigan sheriff’s deputy gets $200K in breast pumping case

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A county board has approved a roughly $200,000 settlement with a southwestern Michigan sheriff’s deputy who said a sergeant videotaped her while she was in a private office pumping breast milk for her newborn.

The Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a payment of about $130,000 to the employee and her spouse, plus $69,000 in attorney fees. There’s no lawsuit in the case and the agreement followed meetings with a mediator.

Thom Canny, the county’s corporation counsel, declined to identify the employee or her job title. A request in December for a special prosecutor to review whether criminal charges are merited in the case identified her as a deputy.

No charges have been announced in the case.

The sergeant involved has since resigned from the sheriff’s office, Canny said. Neither the sergeant nor anyone else in the sheriff’s office viewed the videotape, he said.

The sergeant “contends it was an accidental taping,” Canny said.

The settlement aims to protect the woman’s privacy. As part of the agreement, she also will get eight lost days of sick time and the sheriff’s office will have to provide a comfortable, private area for women to nurse — regardless of whether they are employees, Canny said.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller has denied that the woman’s privacy was invaded. Fuller has agreed to schedule employee training on sexual harassment issues, something that was already was in the works before the deputy’s case arose, Canny said.

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