TWIN FALLS • A former Twin Falls County undersheriff is suing the county, claiming she was discriminated against because of her gender.
Gerlyn “Sam” Walker was named undersheriff in 2008 by Sheriff Tom Carter. In January 2011, Carter moved Walker from chief deputy to the officer in charge of investigations.
The suit claims Walker was regularly treated differently than her male counterparts.
The suit states Walker should be paid for damages in excess of $40,000 per year after her demotion and reduction in pay in December 2009, and additional damages of $40,000 per year from the dates of the trial until she reaches retirement age of 67, along with additional damages for pain and suffering.
Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Lori Stewart said the office would not comment on an ongoing lawsuit.
In the suit, Walker claims Carter met daily at the Addison West Restaurant for coffee with the male members of the management team while Walker was excluded from the meetings. Key management decisions were made and earlier decisions reversed at the meetings where she was not present, the suit states.
According to the suit, males on the administrative team received other perks not available to Walker such as routinely being allowed to leave work for coffee breaks, golf games, home projects, physical fitness workouts, side jobs and leaving work at 4 p.m. on a regular basis.
“Plaintiff Walker was required to work significantly greater hours for her salary than the other male salaried administrative personnel,” the suit claims.
In the suit, Walker accuses Carter, Capt. Tim Miller and members of the SWAT Team of making sexist and ageist comments about her.
Walker said SWAT Team members said she should lead dangerous entries into structures because “she has no kids, she’s old and no one will miss her,” the suit states.
According to the suit, Miller made fun of her at the shooting range, saying “that’s what you get for hiring an old women.”
In November 2009, the suit states, Carter put Walker in charge of investigating Miller’s behavior because he routinely made vulgar, sexual comments in the workplace.
According to the suit, Walker found Miller should be disciplined but Carter refused to discipline him.
The suit also states Carter intentionally failed to conduct an investigation of a deputy he said he would personally handle after a woman made a domestic violence complaint against the deputy.
Carter allegedly made a derogatory comment about the woman, the suit claims.
In addition, the suit claims Carter personally made sexist, derogatory comments about women in the workplace such as accusing women of going through menopause and calling them crazy. He also allegedly referred to victims of domestic violence in derogatory ways, saying only Walker could deal with them, the suit states.
According to the suit, Walker was deprived of using equipment such as a Kevlar vest.
The suit states, for a period of time, Walker was allowed to work a schedule of four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days to care for her elderly father as part of the Family Medical Leave Act. That accommodation was reversed by Carter in May 2010 “in order to accommodate the Sheriff’s Office golf schedule with his male counterparts,” the suit states.
Walker frequently took complaints of sexual harassment and other kinds of harassment or complained herself about the treatment, the suit states.
“In each instance, Plaintiff Walker was told not to write up the behavior or she was directed not to report it to Human Resources,” the suit states.
Walker believes her demotion from chief deputy was a direct result of her complaints to Carter about the violations of Title VII and the Idaho Human Rights Act by her male co-workers and Carter himself.
According to the suit, the official reason Walker was demoted was that she didn’t live in Twin Falls County, even though the suit says that she did and there was no requirement that anyone other than the sheriff live in the county.
According to the suit, Walker resigned her position because of the hostile and offensive work environment maintained by Twin Falls County and its failure to protect her from further harassment.
Twin Falls County attorneys have 21 days to respond to the suit.