Statement regarding Civil Trial of Ballou v. McElvain/City of Vancouver

November 30, 2023

On November 6, 2023, the civil trial of Ballou v. McElvain/City of Vancouver began in the Tacoma Federal Courthouse. This case centered around allegations by the plaintiff, Julie Ballou, of gender bias and discrimination under former Chief James McElvain, as well as claims of retaliation.

Throughout the past two and a half weeks, multiple current and former Vancouver Police Department employees and City executive personnel provided testimony. On November 22, the jury comprised of six women and two men announced their verdict, largely in favor of the City of Vancouver and Chief McElvain. The jury determined the Plaintiff was not subjected to gender discrimination or bias.  The jury also found in favor of Chief McElvain on all claims brought against him, finding he did not violate the Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.

The Plaintiff had alleged that three separate promotional decisions were discriminatory and/or retaliatory. The jury found that one of those three decisions was influenced by an employee’s retaliatory motive, although the identification of the employee of concern is unclear. The jury awarded Plaintiff $5,456.20, which is a fraction of what the City offered to resolve this case over a year ago. The City is considering its options in terms of bringing this case to a final resolution.

The City and Chief McElvain are grateful for the diligence, attention, and service of the jurors. The City of Vancouver deeply values equity and equal opportunity for all our employees and the process the justice system provides.