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Attorney for county treasurer files for dismissal of lawsuit

Asserts Illingworth not granted right to sue from Civil Rights Commission

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 11:34 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 11:35 a.m. CDT

The attorney representing Jasper County Treasurer Doug Bishop in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed a motion Friday seeking to have the case dismissed due to “lack of jurisdiction.”

Jason Craig of Ahlers & Cooney, a Des Moines law firm, filed the motion, arguing the plaintiff, former Second Deputy Treasurer Donna K. Illingworth, had failed to follow proper procedural requirements under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. He said previous case law has held that a civil rights case may only proceed after the Iowa Civil Rights Commission has issued a “right-to-sue release.”

“Defendants have never received a copy of a right-to-sue letter from the Commission, and the Commission has advised defense counsel that no right-to-sue letter has been issued,” Craig’s motion stated. As a result, the procedural requirements of the Iowa Civil Rights Act have not been met, it continued, adding that under the circumstances, “dismissal is required.”

Illingworth sued both Jasper County and Bishop for fostering a gender-based hostile work environment and for wrongfully terminating Illingworth’s employment based on her gender. She also alleged Bishop retaliated against Illingworth for questioning what she perceived to be illegal activities by Jasper County elected officials.

The former Second Deputy Treasurer had previously been unsuccessful in receiving unemployment benefits based on many of the same allegations. An administrative law judge ruled against her claims – and the ruling was later upheld by the Iowa Employment Board – and said Bishop and the county were justified in terminating her employment.

The county’s termination letter stated Illingworth’s employment was ended for insubordination, falsifying records, violations of computer-use policies and gross misconduct.

Daily News Editor Bob Eschliman may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 423, or at beschliman@newtondailynews.com.

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