Sheriff and department respond to lawsuit claiming discrimination, racism

The Jackson County sheriff and his department are responding to allegations in lawsuit that accuses Sheriff Steve Rand of racist and discriminatory behavior.

The lawsuit, filed Monday by a lieutenant with the department, includes what it claims are audio recordings of Rand making such comments.

The lieutenant’s attorney says he has some 20 clips in which Rand uses derogatory comments towards women, minorities, and the gay and lesbian community.

“I’ve been an employment lawyer for 32 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” attorney Jim Fett said.

The lieutenant filed the lawsuit because he says Rand discriminated against him because of some hearing loss he says he sustained on the job. He says in the lawsuit that Rand made fun of his condition and threatened to fire him because of it.

“As much as I would like to say a few things it would be completely inappropriate to comment on pending litigation,” Rand said in an e-mail to 6 News. “Legal counsel has not had a chance to review the allegations nor have we been served formally.”

The department also sent out an e-mail, written by Undersheriff Chris Kuhl. It also says that their response is limited because they haven’t reviewed the lawsuit or gotten any legal advice. But it seeks to reassure the community that the department treats its citizen fairly.

“Jackson County Office of the Sheriff asks for the public’s patience and will continue to serve the community to the highest possible standard without regard to race, ethnicity, sexual preference or identity,” Kuhl said in a statement. “The Sheriff’s Office appreciates the communities’ support for the men and women of this organization that carry out its good works every day.”