State Politics

Discrimination suit filed against Idaho Labor director, former Human Rights Commission director; seeks $10 million

The lawsuit filed in Boise federal court names Idaho Department of Labor Director Ken Edmunds and former Idaho Human Rights Commission Director Pamela Parks.

It alleges that Edmunds and 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.

After completing three employment interviews with the Idaho Human Rights commissioners, Dew said, he had an interview with Edmunds in September.

During the interview Dew said he has epilepsy after being asked by Edmunds about a gap in his employment. Immediately following Dew’s disclosure, Edmunds’ attitude and behavior changed and Dew “saw a look of disgust in Director Edmund’s face,” according to the complaint. Edmunds then asked Dew if he could even work 40 hours a week. Dew responded yes and told him he works 40 or more hours at his current job, according to the claim.

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.”

Distraught over Edmund’s treatment, Dew withdrew his application. Through a public records request, he obtained notes and other documents pertaining to his interview process. Parks’ noted Dew is gay in the notes she took from the telephone interviews she had conducted with Dew’s references. According to the complaint, Dew alleges this indicates a bias because other applicants were not noted for being straight or heterosexual.

Dew is seeking $10 million in damages.

Edmunds and Parks have not yet responded to the lawsuit, filed May 1.

Dew filed a tort claim, the first step in such a lawsuit, in January.