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Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton must pay $50,000 over veteran's preference failure

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office must pay Sgt. Rod Edwards $50,000 after failing to consider his military service when evaluating him for a promotion, the Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled.

The finding adds to the turmoil swirling around Sheriff Dan Staton, who continues to be investigated by the state Department of Justice following a number of allegations aired about him. His office already has reached a costly monetary settlement for one highly critical threatened lawsuit filed by a top deputy of his, Linda Yankee, and the state’s ruling likely points to another one in the offing, as Edwards has a pending federal lawsuit. TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Sheriff Dan Staton's office must pay $50,000 to compensate for failing to properly assign a special consideration for military service when considering Sgt. Rod Edward's application for promotion.

The appeals court ruled that Edwards deserved the money to compensate him for emotional distress caused by the sheriff’s office's failure to apply a veteran's preference in 2012. It rejected arguments by the county that the state Bureau of Labor and Industry had erred in coming to the same conclusion following an investigation in 2014.

The court also echoed BOLI’s reasoning that the Sheriff’s Office lacked any system of applying a preference for veterans as required by law. In particular, the ruling cited conflicting and contradictory accoungs given by top Staton aides, especially his personnel director, Jennifer Ott.

“Ott gave inconsistent testimony, first stating that she was to apply the preference at the final hiring stage, nthen stating that the sheriff was to do so, and, ultimately, indicating that she had not given the sheriff the opportunity to apply the preference, because Edwards had not been qualified enough to benefit from it. Given those and other inconsistencies, BOLI expressly discredited Ott’s testimony.”

"We don't comment on litigation," said Lt. Steve Alexander. "We can't provide a comment at this time."

In his complaint to BOLI, Edwards had claimed he was passed over to retaliate against him for filing a lawsuit in 2003 over a similar failure to apply the preference when he applied for promotion to sergeant.

"My client is overjoyed with the decision, and glad that his case clarifies and cements veteran's preference," said Edwards' lawyer, Sean Riddell.

By Nick Budnick
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