Montana Human Rights Bureau to Conduct Evidentiary Hearing In Clark vs McDermott Case on Tuesday – Public Invited to Attend
The Montana Human Rights Bureau will be conducting an evidentiary hearing in the case of Josh Clark versus Missoula County Sheriff T.J. McDermott starting Tuesday at the Grant Creek Inn.
Missoula attorney Steve Carey will represent the county as Clark's legal team presents their case starting Tuesday, scheduled to last three days.
"This is the Human Rights Bureau hearing on Josh Clark's human rights complaint in which he alleges that Missoula County, Sheriff McDermott, and Undersheriff Jason Johnson discriminated against him for his political beliefs," Carey said. "He is alleging, evidently, that his being put on patrol was political discrimination."
Carey explained the process that will occur starting Tuesday before the Human Rights Bureau investigator.
"There's a Human Rights Bureau hearings examiner who will be running the show," Carey said. "Mr. Clark's legal team will have the opportunity to put their case on first, and then I'll cross-examine as I see fit. Once their case is completed, we will put our witnesses on to rebut and deny that there was any discrimination whatsoever with regard to the placement of Mr. Clark."
On September 3, 2015, the Human Rights Bureau determined that 'based on its investigation, the Bureau finds reasonable cause to believe unlawful discrimination occurred as alleged in charging party's complaint'.
Representing Josh Clark are Missoula Attorneys Quentin Rhodes and Nicole Siefert. Rhoades said the finding of discrimination for his client can be likened to a case being approved for trial after evidence of a crime has been determined.
"We're not seeking reinstatement, we're seeking monetary damages, Rhoades said. "Too much water has gone over the dam between Mr. Clark and the current sheriff and administration that it's too much to ask to try to move forward with the career path he was on prior to Sheriff McDermott taking office. What I believe we can prove is that there was a constructive discharge of Mr. Clark by Sheriff McDermott and upon his discharge Mr. Clark elected to take his retirement.Had he stayed and retired as planned after his youngest child finished college, he would have been with the department for at least eight or nine more years. His retirement is now less,\ because his years of service are less."
Rhoades said he has monetary figures in mind to bring before the Human Rights Commission hearings examiner.
""There's a range of between $325,000 and up to nearly $1 million," Rhoades said. "Depending upon how long the hearings examiner determines Mr. Clark would have stayed on the job prior to his retirement. If Josh had retired at 50, then he would be receiving somewhere in the neighborhood of $325,000. If Josh had retired when he was 62, it approaches $1 million."
Rhoades said the hearings examiner also has the authority to force the county to pay Clark's legal fees, as well as their own, and, that both sides have the opportunity to appeal the examiner's ruling in court.