County Director of Human Resources Outlines Steps in Resolving Human Rights Complaints [YouTube]
When Captain Mike Dominick made his complaint this week against the Sheriff's Office and T.J. McDermott, he appealed to the Montana Human Rights Bureau in Helena.
According to the Bureau's website:
"The Montana Human Rights Bureau is charged with enforcing certain state and federal laws that prohibit unlawful discrimination. When a person files a complaint with the Department of Labor and Industry's Human Rights Bureau, the Bureau will informally investigate."
Here in Missoula, the agency that communicates with the bureau in Helena is the Missoula County Human Resources Department. Director Patty Baumgart details the steps taken by the county after a complaint is filed with the Human Rights Bureau.
"Once a complaint is received by the Human Rights Bureau, they provide notice to the county that an official complaint has been filed," Baumgart said. "Then, they provide a certain amount of time to respond to the complaint. After the county responds in writing an investigator is assigned by the Human Rights Bureau who sends a copy of the county's response to the complaining employee."
Once that process is complete, Baumgart said the investigator takes whatever steps are necessary to investigate the claim, talking to the complainant and to other witnesses.
"Once that investigation is complete, the findings will be presented in a formal manner," she said. "After that, it depends on what those findings are that will determine the county's course of action. If the Human Rights Bureau issues an opinion that the county is responsible for the discrimination. it goes into a more legal format. At the conclusion, if there was a finding against the county, the county may wish to engage in a settlement, or the matter might be referred to what is called a contested case hearing, something that would necessitate the involvement of the county attorney's office."
In 2013, then Detective Sergeant T.J. McDermott and Deputy Jason Johnson filed complaints of political discrimination with the Human Rights Bureau against the county and were both awarded $60,000 in a settlement agreement.
Baumgart said any action taken by the county against the complainant would be a violation of their rights.
"That would be considered a form of retaliation," Baumgart said. "Retaliation is a protected area under Montana's Human Rights Act and could not occur based on the filing of a human rights complaint."