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Ex-County worker sues over firing

| November 15, 2010 8:00 PM

REXBURG (AP) - A former Madison County building inspector is suing local government officials in federal court, saying he was fired to clear the way for an ex-county commissioner to take his job.

Cliff Morris claims he was unlawfully terminated after former County Commission Chairman Ralph Robison lost a bid for re-election in 2008, according to court documents filed earlier this month.

According to the lawsuit, Robison "stated multiple times that he would like to have Cliff Morris' job."

Robison, who replaced Morris in May 2009, denies allegations in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit names County Planning and Building Administrator Brent McFadden, Morris' former supervisor, as a defendant.

In court documents, Morris said he was told to authorize building permits for numerous structures that did not meet county ordinances. Morris claims he followed the instructions for fear he would lose his job.

Morris claims he was intensely scrutinized and his work hours were cut as McFadden tried to make his job unpleasant so he would leave.

The lawsuit details several heated encounters between McFadden and Morris over wage reductions, travel logs, a probationary period and a suspension without pay.

McFadden declined to comment on the lawsuit.

But Robison, the county's current building inspector, said Morris was fired after commissioners received complaints about his performance from the community. He had also been insubordinate, Robison said.

Morris was fired following a recommendation from the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, the county's insurer, Robison told the Standard Journal.

"Information was presented to the state and they came back with a recommendation to terminate," Robison said. "I don't know what information was gathered, it had been going on for years."

Attorney Hyrum Erickson is representing Morris in the case and declined to comment.

"Because this is an ongoing case, we have decided not to discuss it at this time," he said.

Morris wants to be reinstated to his former position and compensated, along with damages, with an amount to be determined at the trial, according to court documents.

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