NHP mechanic sues state over termination

RENO -- A former Nevada Highway Patrol mechanic has filed a civil-rights lawsuit against the state and Public Safety Director Dick Kirkland.

Dewey Willie filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Reno on Nov. 25 after he was fired from his job as an equipment mechanic.

In his complaint, Willie says he complained to the Nevada Equal Rights Commission because he believed he was being discriminated against because he is Native American.

According to the complaint, Willie was fired after receiving a notice from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saying he was entitled to sue.

"He (Kirkland) directed and caused plaintiff's discipline and termination from employment with the state," the civil-rights complaint charges.

The suit was filed by Reno lawyer Jeffrey Dickerson, who was not available for comment. Willie also could not be reached.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Mike Jensen said his office had not yet been notified of the lawsuit and couldn't comment on it.

According to the complaint, the fact he is Native American was "a substantial factor in adverse employment actions" against Willie, including counseling, discipline, suspension, an internal affairs investigation and "a hostile working environment."

"Plaintiff is informed and believes that the termination was caused by Plaintiff's pursuit of his charge of discrimination with the EEOC," the complaint charges.

"Defendant Kirkland, acting under color of state law, directed and caused the foregoing adverse actions motivated by an intent to punish Plaintiff and/or to deter Plaintiff from engaging in protected speech under the First Amendment's free speech clause."

He said another factor was "his questioning of the agency's handling of agency surplus vehicle, equipment and parts." The complaint says Willie reported what he considered violations of policy and laws regarding the disposal of old or surplus equipment. There was no one available to explain specifically what that allegation refers to.


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