Boise & Garden City

Former Ada administrator’s lawsuit against county heads back to district court

Richard Wright’s lawsuit against Ada County got mixed results in the Idaho Supreme Court Thursday.

The justices upheld a 4th District Court decision to reject Richard Wright's claim of Family and Medical Leave Act violations but said the lower court erred by ruling against Wright's whistleblower and emotional distress claims. The justices remanded those portions of the lawsuit back to district court.

Ada County sent out a news release Thursday saying the fate of the remaining claims will be decided in district court, and "Ada County Commissioners adamantly disagree with the facts as Mr. Wright has asserted them."

Wright claimed that he was fired from his position leading the county administration department, in part, for ordering an investigation into allegations that a manager with the commissioners' office was harassing employees. He alleges commissioners retaliated because the employee, who ultimately resigned, was a friend of former Ada County Commissioner Vern Bisterfeldt and participated in Dave Case's and Jim Tibbs' 2012 election campaigns for commissioner.

He was terminated the day after Case and Tibbs were sworn in as commissioners and reportedly was told the move was part of a reorganization. County officials have said Wright's firing was legal because he was an at-will employee and could be terminated without cause. Wright appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court.