County settles lawsuit, gears up for round two - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

After settling lawsuit, Dakota Co. Commission gears up for round two

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Dakota County, Nebraska Commissioners have settled a suit filed by several former jailers who allege discrimination and harassment.

As they try to move past that controversy, leaders are faced with a new lawsuit, from the county attorney.

Allegations have plagued the Dakota County jail for years.  In fact, leaders even hired an independent investigator to look into claims of misbehavior on the part of those running the jail, in 2006.  The findings were never made public.

In 2009, six jailers filed suit saying their bosses, the Sheriff and head deputy created a hostile work environment and paid female jailers less than their male counterparts. The parties settled their suit on Friday. 

When asked whether the county of accepting any wrong doing, Chairman of the Commission, Rick Bousquet said, "No we're not."

Details of the settlement were not released.

Bousquet added that it was relief to move past a case that dogged the commission for years, "It's a reflection on the employees of the county, and to have it finalized and be done, it's a weight off the county's shoulders."

The settlement brings closure to a controversial case.  However, another one is waiting in the wings.  This one involves the County Attorney.  Kim Watson is suing the board of commissioners after they denied two requests to raise her secretary's pay two percent.

"Our budget year has been extremely tight," Bousquet said.

In a statement to KTIV, Watson said, "I am not over spending or asking for more than what the Board has already approved.  I am simply asking to spend a portion of what the Board has already approved." 

The county has been under a wage freeze for the past eight months, and laid off several people.  The County Chair argues that making this concession would set an unfair precedent.

"When it all comes down to the budget, the County Commissioners are the ones held accountable to the tax payers.  We've got to take a stand," Bousquet said.

The two parties will go to court on March 18th.  A suit by a sitting county attorney against the board it represents is not unprecedented.  In 2010, another Nebraska County Attorney sued and won when the board refused to approve a salary request for full-time secretary.

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