Two former Jeffco administrators sue, allege age discrimination

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By The Staff

Two former Jefferson County employees are suing County Administrator Jim Moore, alleging that they were fired because of their ages.

Judy Goebel, the county's director of human resources from April 2006 to April 2007, and Jere Bower, director of support services from February 2006 to May 2007, allege that Moore fired them based on their age. Goebel was 58 when she was fired, and Bower was 54.

Geobel also alleges that Moore created an uncomfortable work environment by discussing inappropriate sexual situations with her, and by allowing male co-workers to demean female superiors.

Ellen Wakeman, Jeffco’s acting county attorney, would not discuss the specifics of the lawsuits. But she did defend the firings as part of a cost-savings effort.

"I'm not going to discuss details of the county's litigation strategy," Wakeman said. "But the county remains dedicated to cutting administrative costs, and we're going to defend this vigorously."

Moore has said in the past that the positions were eliminated to save money.

Robert Truhlar, the Centennial-based attorney who filed both lawsuits, had no comment, according to a person that answered the phone in his office Nov. 14.

Moore submitted a written statement in response to questions about the lawsuits from the Courier.

"Both Ms. Goebel and Ms. Bower already filed complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Division following their dismissal," Moore wrote Nov. 13. "Each complaint was investigated by the CCRD. Neither complaint was found to have any merit whatsoever."

The county provided copies of the CCRD reports, officially known as “letters of determination,” dated Jan. 21, 2008, in Bower's case and April 7, 2008, in Goebel's. Both reports found no probable cause to support the claims of age discrimination.

As for the inappropriate sexual conversations, Moore said he had conversations about a situation involving his childhood with Goebel, but not with Bower.

"Ms. Bower did not raise this allegation in her CCRD complaint, although it remarkably appears in the lawsuit she recently filed," Moore wrote. "While employed, neither Ms. Goebel nor Ms. Bower complained to the county attorney, Board of County Commissioners, or any individual commissioner about any of their allegations."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.