Wyoming Livestock Board and former director being sued by former investigator
for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A former Wyoming livestock investigator is suing the Wyoming Livestock Board and its former director, alleging workplace discrimination and retaliation for prior complaints.
The lawsuit was filed Dec. 1 in U.S. District Court on behalf of Jimmy Dean Siler by Cheyenne attorney Scott Homar. It alleges that former Wyoming Livestock Board Director Leanne Correll sought to systematically reorganize, reduce and dismantle the livestock law enforcement division to retailiate against Siler and other male enforcement officers.
Correll declined to comment on the pending litigation and Wyoming Livestock Board Director Steve True didn’t return calls seeking comment.
The lawsuit outlines a string of alleged discrmination by Correll and others that culminated in a recommendation to eliminate the law enforcement division through a budget bill in the Wyoming Legislature. That request was granted earlier this year.
Livestock enforcement officers were charged with enforcing cattle rustling laws, ensuring humane treatment of livestock and overseeing livestock transporation across state lines.
Siler had been the livestock enforcement manager for about five years when Correll took over as director in 2011.
In 2012, Siler and other male employees were denied monetary bonuses after poor work performance evaluations.
All female employees under Correll’s purview were given the extra money.
Siler subsequently filed a grievance with human resources, alleging, in part, gender discrimination.
Shortly after Siler’s complaint, Correll asked the human resources director how she could demote Siler, according to the complaint. She was told she couldn’t demote him without reorganizing the division.
“Subsequently, Defendant Correll went on a systematic campaign with the (livestock board) to reorganize (reduce) and/or dismantle the law enforcement division,” the complaint states. “The reorganization would place Defendant Correl in (Siler’s) position and demote or remove the male law enforcement personnel.”
As part of that reorganization, Siler was demoted from a managerial position to an investigator, resulting in a pay cut of $11,000 per year.
During that time, two other male employees were “outspoken against their treatment by Leanne Correll.” One of them, who was an at-will employee, was fired, according to the lawsuit. The other was demoted, taking a $1,300 monthly pay cut.
A 2014 complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opporunity Commission found that “there is probable cause to believe discrimination occurred in the conduct of complaintant’s performance evaluation, according to the lawsuit.
Within a week of Siler’s demotion, Correll took over his position, “even though she had no law enforcement background or training.” She took a $6,000 annual raise.
Following that reorganization, Correll and the Wyoming Livestock Board recommended the removal of the law enforcement division, giving inaccuate information in order to convince lawmakers that the division was no longer needed, the lawsuit states.
The bill removed three of the four full-time livestock investigators.
Initial plans said their last day would be Dec. 31, 2017, but the livestock board eliminated those positions four months early, officially on Aug. 31, according to Wyoming Public Employee Association Director Betty Jo Beardsley, who was in contact with all three terminated employees.
All three men would have been eligible for retirement in 2018, according to a newsletter from the Public Employees Association.
Through the years, Siler issued several complaints with the Wyoming Livestock Board and Wyoming Department of Human Resources about gender discrimination and “inapropriate advances and relationships between Defendant Correll and individuals associated with the (livestock board).”
In addition to a judgement that discrimination took place, Siler is seeking back pay and benefits, compensatory damages, exemplary and/or punitive damages and attorney’s fees. ❖