Kauai engineer sues county alleging discrimination
LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — A 32-year-old senior engineer with Kauai’s water department has sued the county alleging it discriminated against him for being too young.
The discrimination against Dustin Lee Moises started in 2010, when he was demoted and his pay was cut, according to the lawsuit.
The following year, the county’s Department of Personnel Services told the water department he would be downgraded because he was too young, Moises said.
The Garden Island newspaper (http://bit.ly/13LLPCL) reports Moises filed the suit in state court in Lihue on Monday. He’s seeking damages equal to the wages and benefits he says he was illegally denied.
The complaint names the county, the Department of Personnel Services, and Malcolm Fernandez, the county’s former director of personnel services.
Kauai County spokeswoman Mary Daubert says the county doesn’t comment on litigation or personnel matters.
Moises said the water department is a small and partially autonomous office where people often work beyond their job description out of necessity.
Moises gained senior engineer, design and construction experience a decade before he would expect to reach that level after several colleagues retired in a short period. But he said the personnel services department didn’t give him adequate credit for his work experience and stuck to the letter of official occupation titles.
His work experience should count toward promotional opportunities, he said.
“They compared me to other people rather than to what I did,” he said.
In 2011, Moises applied for a higher grade management job posted by the county. But he received a letter from personnel services notifying him that the position was canceled. He applied the following month for a county advertised chief of water operations position but was advised by personnel services he lacked the required experience.
Moises appealed the decision and was partially granted his appeal. But personnel services filled the position while he was awaiting the outcome of the appeal.
Soon after, the Department of Water proposed creating a new construction management position. But the position was downgraded the day after Moises submitted an application.
Moises said the process made him feel as though he was “always one step behind.”
He claims emotional distress from a reduced ability to provide for himself, his wife and two young daughters.
“The actions by individuals within the Department of Personnel Services have greatly impacted me, my family, and the DOW over the last several years,” Moises said. “I believe personnel decisions should be based on an applicant’s merit, not their age.”
The 1999 Kauai High School graduate earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii’s civil and environmental engineering school.
Information from: The Garden Island, http://thegardenisland.com/