Ferry worker placed on leave pending investigation of racism, groping

by: Amy Clancy Updated:

Washington State Ferry

SEATTLE - A ferry employee is suspected of groping a female co-worker and calling another co-worker a racist slur. The employee was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

KIRO 7's Amy Clancy learned, even after he was placed on leave, the banned employee worked two days.

Ferry sources told Clancy that the initial incidents happened on board a Washington State Ferry in early April.

According to the sources, an apparently intoxicated off-duty deck-hand boarded the ferry Spokane from Kingston to Edmonds. When he got out of his vehicle, the man grabbed a female deckhand from behind, grabbed her breasts and pushed his pelvic area into her backside.

Sources said when a black deck officer intervened, the off-duty ferry employee, who is white, called the officer the "n-word" repeatedly.

Clancy spoke with that black deck officer on the phone. He did not want to appear on camera, but detailed how he and the female deck-hand filed complaints immediately.

He said that both he and the female deck-hand were interviewed by top-level ferry officials.

But this week, the man who they said verbally and physically assaulted them was apparently back on the job, despite being placed on administrative leave in April.

On Friday, the Washington State Ferry System would initially say only that the "incident is under investigation." A WSF spokeswoman also claimed the employee under investigation was still not working, pending the outcome of the investigation.

But multiple ferry employees told Clancy he has been. Late Friday afternoon, the ferry system acknowledged that the man worked on Wednesday and Thursday.

Now that KIRO 7 has called this to the attention of the WSF, the worker is now also being investigated for defying his suspension in addition to the racial slurs and groping. He is again off the job, and will not be paid for the two days he returned to work.

He is, however, on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete.