A former lawyer in the Oregon Department of Justice's trial division filed a federal civil rights lawsuit
(PDF) against the department in U.S. District Court in Portland on May 2.Billie Eidson
, who joined DOJ in July 2009, alleges that she suffered retaliation and discrimination on the basis of her gender and an unspecified disability.
In January, after Eidson complained about her working conditions, an independent human-resources consultant evaluated the working conditions in the trial division. Among the consultant's findings was this item:
During plaintiff’s employment with DOJ, male attorneys openly referred to female attorneys in the Trial Division, female opposing counsel, and female plaintiffs as “bitches” and, in team meetings, have referred to female opposing counsel as “Satan” or have used derogatory terms implying that these female attorneys have mental health issues.
Despite that and other unflattering conclusions about the conditons in which Eidson toiled, DOJ officials decided her concerns lacked merit. The agency terminated her on April 15, according to the lawsuit.
Eidson's case bubbled to the surface last month, when Marc Abrams, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1085 that represents DOJ lawyers, alleged
that Attorney General John Kroger's agency was improperly withholding a second report about Eidson's concerns. Tony Green, a spokesman for DOJ, told WW
at the time that the agency was justified in doing so because Oregon's Public Records law exempts from disclosure documents that pertain to litigation.
Eidson seeks $350,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 each from three DOJ supervisors. Green, the agency's spokesman, says the agency does not comment on pending litigation.