State ordered to pay former DOC employee $413,053

Phil Drake

An administrative hearing officer has ordered the Montana Department of Corrections to pay $413,053 to a former employee who said she was terminated from her job as retaliation, after several women came forward with sexual harassment allegations against the man who was then the DOC director.

Chad R. Vanisko, the hearing officer who is with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, said Wednesday in a 12-page decision that Adrianne Cotton, the department’s former government relations director, was to be awarded four years of lost wages and $75,000 for emotional distress. It also found that she should receive $88,617 in front pay and $50,000 for emotional distress.

He said front pay was to compensate Cotton for the future effects of discrimination when reinstatement is not feasible.

Vanisko said the DOC had 90 days to pay.

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“When I lost my career in 2018, a four-years long battle was inconceivable,” Cotton said Thursday in an email. “My sincere hope is that the Department of Corrections acknowledges its errors and allows this issue to rest so that I may close the chapter on this part of my life.”

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