City Approves $250,000 Settlement for Former Investigator Who Says Ex-Portland Police Officer Sexually Harassed Her in Workplace

This is the city’s second six-figure payout stemming from complaints against Robert Bruders.

P1199858 (1) Portland City Hall in February 2021. (Brian Burk)

The Portland City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to pay $250,000 to settle a June 2020 lawsuit in which a former background investigator with the Portland Police Bureau accused Robert Bruders, a onetime PPB officer reassigned to the bureau’s personnel division, of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

“On a continuous basis during the three years plaintiff was employed by the PPB, Bruders created a hostile work environment for plaintiff based on her sex and engaged in sexual harassment of plaintiff,” attorney Jason Kafoury wrote in an amended complaint filed this March in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

The complaint further alleged Bruders subjected the plaintiff, identified as P.L., to “unwelcome, severe and pervasive sexual harassment.” The plaintiff accused Bruders of following her around the workplace, “leering” at her, isolating her alone in a room, invading her personal workspace, and looking down her blouse.

Today’s settlement marks the second time in less than a decade the city of Portland has had to pay out a six-figure award stemming from allegations against Bruders.

Bruders was one of a trio of Portland police officers who beat a Portland man named Jason Cox in a parking garage in 2011. As a result of that incident, which was captured on a surveillance camera, a jury awarded more than $560,000 to Cox, who was also represented by Kafoury.

After the 2014 verdict, the city transferred Bruders, who was no longer a sworn officer, to the personnel division, where he was accused of harassing P.L.

“After assaulting Mr. Cox, it’s unconscionable that Portland police allowed Bruders to return to the department and sexually harass a female co-worker,” Kafoury said Wednesday. “This case shows why the Portland police department needs serious reform.”

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