A lawsuit filed against the Nez Perce County commissioners for their alleged mistreatment of the county’s former emergency management director now has a U.S. district judge assigned to it.
Judge David C. Nye was assigned the case Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho.
The lawsuit alleges Nez Perce County Commissioners Don Beck, Doug Havens and Douglas Zenner violated the Idaho Protection of Public Employees Act and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act when they did not pay former Nez Perce County Emergency Management Director Grant DiCianni overtime and fired him on April 3 just as the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold.
DiCianni and his wife, Amanda DiCianni, seek damages for his lost wages and benefits, emotional distress, emotional harm, court costs and attorney’s fees for what the lawsuit describes as “intentional and reckless treatment” of DiCianni, who worked for the county from January 2018 until April 3 of this year.
The lawsuit says the commissioners accused DiCianni of being insubordinate when they placed him on paid administrative leave and ultimately fired him.
“Mr. DiCianni identified several threats and hazards unique to Nez Perce County which needed to be addressed,” the lawsuit said. “The commissioners threatened and ridiculed Mr. DiCianni for bringing these issues to their attention.”
DiCianni said his position did not qualify for the overtime exempt status and that he worked at least 500 hours of overtime in responses to emergency situations and trainings.
In the county’s answer to the civil complaint, it says DiCianni was told more than once that he needed to be in his office during regular business hours unless his absence was approved by the commissioners.
DiCianni also seeks a declaration that his rights were violated, along with an award for unpaid wages, liquidated damages and fees and costs to make him whole. The lawsuit also seeks to ensure future county employees would not be subjected to “such illegal conduct” by the commissioners and the county in the future. The lawsuit also contemplates adding a tort claim in the future.
Wells may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2275.