Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

Darby Town employees file human rights complaint

By Michael Howell

In a letter dated February 10, attorney Ellie Hill Smith informed the Town of Darby that she has been retained by former Town Clerk and Treasurer Nancy McKinney, Town Marshall Larry Rose and Deputy Marshall John Ringer “regarding the unlawful employment discrimination and subsequent retaliation, specifically by your current Mayor JC McDowell.”

In the letter Smith states that “well before being elected Mayor, McDowell has engaged in a deliberate and public campaign to terminate the services of the varying members of ‘City Hall’, specifically based on their age, sex, and alleged disability, but also by endlessly demeaning and harassing them, in numerous public settings, creating an unbearably toxic and hostile work environment, and subsequently retaliating against them in violation of their rights…”

Smith states that McDowell also made statements about his disdain for the Darby police, including their bar checks and inspections, their propensity for issuing citations for liquor law violations and arrests for other alcohol related criminal activities, such as DUI or DWI offenses. McDowell owns Bandit Brewery in Darby.

“As recently as a few weeks ago, McDowell continued his vocal crusade, by attempting to reduce the hours of the law enforcement in the Town of Darby, cutting FTE’s, perpetuating an almost unbelievably transparent hostile work environment, and continuing statements to citizens and city officials relaying his preconceived ‘plan’ to terminate the employment of my clients,” wrote Smith. She alleges that McDowell retaliated against her clients when they reported these conflicts of interest to him.

Smith ends the letter stating that she seeks “immediate injunctive relief from the City Council of the Town of Darby to prevent and protect our clients from any additional and future discrimination and retaliation by McDowell.”

Council President Shane Starkey did not return phone calls from the Bitterroot Star.

Mayor JC McDowell said that the Town’s attorney had advised him not to make any comments on the issue.

Smith told the Bitterroot Star that she filed a complaint on behalf of her clients with the state Human Rights Bureau last week.

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