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Missoula County Detectives Receive Settlement Over Human Rights Violations [AUDIO]

Missoula County Courthouse
photo by Peter Christian

After a finding was released by the Montana Human Rights Bureau that Detectives Jason Johnson and T.J. McDermott were victims of political discrimination, they each received a cash settlement from the county.

On January 16, Montana Human Rights Investigator Dennis Unsworth released a statement finding that Johnson had been a victim of unlawful discrimination. He had been released from his position as the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer by Sheriff Carl Ibsen, after declaring his support for Detective T.J. McDermott in his effort to run for sheriff.

Missoula County Commissioner Michele Landquist said that a settlement was reached on Thursday, February 20.

“The complaint went all the way through the grievance process, and after Sheriff Ibsen had sis staff conduct an investigation, it was found that a discriminatory action had occurred,” Landquist said. “When that happens, the grievance goes to the probability of a lawsuit against your employer. However, we were able to have our benefits and risk manager reach an amicable settlement. Each of the deputies, T.J. and Jason, were awarded $60,000 each out of our benefits and risk management fund.”

Landquist said the agreement also prohibits either Johnson or McDermott from filing any more lawsuits or retaliation against the county.

“There will also be more training within the sheriff’s department over what kinds of procedures and conduct need to happen whenever promotions occur within the sheriff’s department,” Landquist said.

Missoula County Commissioner Michele Landquist

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McDermott officially announced his candidacy on Wednesday, February 19.

Johnson said on Friday, February 21 that he was satisfied with the settlement with the county.

“I’m just happy with how it was resolved, and just looking forward to moving on from here,” Johnson said. “The grievance and the settlement hasn’t affected the work much because of the importance of what we do. We just keep our heads down and do what we need to do for the folks that we’re working for, and that’s the victims of the cases that we’re associated with.”

Ibsen has stated that he is not running for reelection, and has endorsed his current undersheriff Josh Clark for sheriff.


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