Eye On Boise

Pam Lowe files sex-bias suit against state

Fired Idaho Transportation Director Pam Lowe is suing the state for wrongful termination, charging sex discrimination, political pressure and more. (Betsy Russell)
Fired Idaho Transportation Director Pam Lowe is suing the state for wrongful termination, charging sex discrimination, political pressure and more. (Betsy Russell)

Idaho's first-ever female transportation director was fired, in part, simply for being a woman, a lawsuit filed today charges. Pam Lowe, who last week filed a "whistleblower" complaint against the state alleging that she was fired for resisting political pressure to favor a big campaign donor to Gov. Butch Otter, filed an amended complaint today bringing in six additional claims for violating her rights under both the U.S. and Idaho constitutions.

"Her gender was specifically referenced as a reason that she should not be promoted and/or that she would not be successful," the lawsuit states. "Ms. Lowe's gender was a contributing factor to the board's decision to terminate her employment, in violation of the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution." Lowe's legal filing in 4th District Court in Boise repeats her earlier allegation that Idaho Transportation Board member Gary Blick of Twin Falls said "no little girl would be able to run this department, or words to that effect" and asked, "What are we going to do when she decides to start a family?" But Lowe, a professional engineer and 15-year department employee, said that wasn't the only instance of gender discrimination she suffered at the department. "I have some other information that I think will probably come out as part of the trial process," she told The Spokesman-Review.

Lowe's six additional claims charge that the state Transportation Board violated both the U.S. and the Idaho state constitutions in three different ways: By engaging in sex discrimination, violating her right to equal protection; by firing her without citing any of the statutory reasons why a transportation director can be fired and without allowing her a hearing, violating her right to due process; and by impugning her good name with "false allegations of unsatisfactory job performance," hurting her professional reputation and "foreclosing other employment opportunities." You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, and read her amended complaint here.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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