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Worker claims wrongful termination

by KEITH KINNAIRD
Hagadone News Network | December 28, 2010 8:00 PM

SANDPOINT - A sacked Parsons employee is suing his former employee and the Idaho Transportation Department for wrongful termination.

Jay Nelson alleges that he was fired by Parsons after reporting safety violations and sexual harassment of a former coworker, according to a lawsuit filed in 1st District Court on Thursday.

Counsel for Nelson said in the civil complaint that his client was hired as a heavy equipment operator on the U.S. Highway 95 bypass project last year. He was later promoted to a foreman on the Sand Creek Byway project.

"While working on the project, Nelson observed and reported unsafe practices and safety violations to Parsons' Safety, Health and Environmental Manager," Douglas Pierce said in the complaint.

The safety violations were not detailed in the lawsuit.

Nelson, a North Idaho resident, made the complaints in July. He also relayed to the manager complaints of a female employee who was being sexually harassed by another employee. Nelson was fired in August, according to the suit.

"Nelson was fired because he communicated in good faith, with a reasonable basis in fact, regarding a violation or suspected violation of the law," Pierce said in court documents.

Pierce argues that Nelson's termination is contrary to the Idaho Protection of Public Employees Act, which holds that it's unlawful for adverse action to be taken against whistleblowers who act in good faith.

The suit seeks damages in excess of $10,000, reinstatement to his position and a civil fine against Parsons and ITD.

Media inquiries to Parsons are channeled through ITD, which typically does not comment on pending litigation. A message to ITD's District 1 spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

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