Northwest

Judge dismisses $10M suit filed against Idaho Labor chief

The lawsuit filed in Boise federal court alleged that Idaho Department of Labor Director Ken Edmunds and former Idaho Human Rights Commission Director Pamela Parks discriminated against Don Dew while he was interviewing for a job as Idaho Human Rights Commission director because he has epilepsy and is gay.

Distraught over how he was treated during an interview, Dew voluntarily withdrew his application and filed the lawsuit on May 1.

Since no one from the state denied Dew the job, “There can be no adverse employment action where a plaintiff, by his own volition, withdraws his application from further consideration prior to being a offered a job,” wrote U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale, agreeing with the state’s reason for seeking dismissal.

“Obviously it was a disappointment, but it is a chapter that can finally be closed,” Dew, who lives in Iowa, told the Statesman via email on Friday. “If I had not stood up for violations I believed, and still do believe to be discriminatory in nature, I would not have this closure. No matter the outcome, to me it was about being able to look at myself in the mirror every morning and know that I did what I could.”

According to court documents, after completing three employment interviews with the Human Rights Commission, Dew said he had an interview with Edmunds in September 2014. Asked by Edmunds about a gap in his employment, Dew said he has epilepsy.

Dew said Edmunds’ attitude and behavior changed immediately. Dew “saw a look of disgust in Director Edmund’s face,” according to his lawsuit. Edmunds asked Dew if he could work 40 hours a week. Dew said yes and told him he works 40 or more hours a week at his current job.

Dew says he thought “Edmunds was biased against him because he was gay and disabled and had founded an advocacy organization for gay, disabled individuals.” In 2007, Dew founded ReachOut USA to help LGBT individuals with disabilities.

After the interview, Dew withdrew his application.

“A bruised ego, however, is insufficient to constitute an adverse employment action,” Dale wrote. “(N)othing precluded or prevented Dew from remaining in contention for the position.”

In her Oct. 8 order, Dale gave Dew 30 days to file an amended complaint. He did not, so she dismissed the case Nov. 9.

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell

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