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Kauai, engineer settle age discrimination suit for $125K

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LIHUE >> An engineer with Kauai’s water department who sued the county alleging he was discriminated against for being too young will receive a $125,000 settlement.

Dustin Lee Moises sued the county in 2013, saying he was told in 2010 that he should not get a higher salary because of his age. The following year, the county’s Department of Personnel Services told the water department he would be downgraded because he was too young.

Moises, now 33, said the settlement provides validation.

First Deputy County Attorney Steve Hall said the county doesn’t admit any liability or wrongdoing by agreeing to a settlement. “Ultimately, settlement seemed to be the best decision for the parties and the taxpayers,” he said.

Terms of the settlement also include requiring the county to conduct U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discrimination training for department heads and supervisors, the Garden Island reported Thursday.

“In addition to the training, I remain optimistic that there will be a culture that provides timely, equal employment and promotional opportunities to all present and protective County of Kauai employees,” Moises said.

Department of Water manager and chief engineer Kirk Saiki said the case didn’t interfere with the quality of Moises’ work and that he continued to be a well-regarded employee.

Moises is a 1999 Kauai High School graduate who earned an environmental engineering degree from the University of Hawaii in 2004. He was hired by the county Department of Water as a licensed professional civil engineer.

Moises gained senior engineer, design and construction experience a decade before he would expect to reach that level after several colleagues retired in a short period. But he said the personnel services department didn’t give him adequate credit for his work experience.

He said the settlement brings closure to years of emotional distress for himself, his spouse and two daughters.

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