BOISE, Idaho – A federal trial in a whistleblower lawsuit filed against the state of Idaho has been canceled after the state settled the case for more than $500,000.
Former Idaho Department of Labor purchasing agent James Cryer sued the department in December 2016, saying it retaliated against him and fired him for his efforts to stop employees from skirting purchasing rules, the Idaho Statesman reported on Thursday.
The case has been settled and dismissed, a court document filed April 12 shows.
“In December of 2016, I did something I never thought I would do. I sued the state of Idaho for illegally retaliating against me as a whistleblower,” Cryer wrote in a letter addressed this week to Idaho Gov. Brad Little. “Now, more than two years later, I am pleased that the lawsuit has ended in an agreement that will allow me to move on and begin to put this behind me.”
The Idaho Department of Labor paid half of the $545,000 settlement. Department of Administration Program Specialist Diane Blume said the department’s risk management program paid the other half. The state also will pay Cryer’s legal fees, although that amount has not been determined.
In addition to suing the labor department, Cryer also named three department employees in his complaint: Director Ken Edmunds, Deputy Director Jay Engstrom and Chief Technology/Security Officer Mike Kalm. Edmunds abruptly resigned in August 2017; Engstrom retired one month after the lawsuit was filed; and Kalm left the department in November for personal reasons.
“I cannot speak to the details of this case,” Little told the Idaho Statesman. “As governor, I am very concerned anytime issues of waste or harassment arise in our state government. I expect state employees to continue to take part in human resource trainings that address discrimination, harassment and whistleblower policies.”
Cryer said he hoped Little will be the governor to change the culture of Idaho’s state government and show support to state employees who want the rules and laws to be followed.
Little said he has directed the Division of Human Resources to provide that training and help state agencies implement best practices concerning these areas.
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