Former Ward Co. Deputy filing grievance over firing

MINOT, N.D. – A Ward County Sheriff’s Deputy fired last month is calling for his job back, back pay and an apology from the Sheriff, and has also contended a County Commissioner committed a felony by discussing private medical records in a public meeting.

Sheriff Bob Barnard fired Timothy Poston on Dec. 26 on a number of accusations, including insubordination.

Last September Poston had accused Barnard of discriminating against his Canadian heritage. He had also accused Ward County State’s Attorney Roza Larson of sexually harassing him on two separate occasions.

In a formal grievance, which KMOT received a copy of Wednesday night, Poston’s attorney Chris Redmann claims that Barnard disregarded Poston’s rights to freedom of speech by using Poston’s questioning of authority as grounds for termination.

Redmann also contends that Ward County did not take his accusations of sexual harassment against Larson seriously enough.

“If the gender roles were reversed, Deputy Poston would have been terminated immediately; yet the County’s apparent position that a male cannot be the victim of sexual harassment is preposterous and should serve as an embarrassment to the County,” Redmann writes in the letter.

An outside investigator looked into Poston’s claims against Barnard and Larson, but determined that the accusations were not substantial enough to reprimand either official.

Poston also says he believes County Commissioner Alan Walter committed a crime by reading from a medical record during a personnel meeting on Dec. 22. Barnard contended in his termination letter that, following the meeting, Poston “badgered the HR director in such a fashion to alarm her co-workers so that they felt it necessary to activate their panic alarms triggering the response of law enforcement to that office.”

The County Commissioners will meet again next Tues., Jan. 16, though it’s unclear if Poston’s termination grievance will come up during discussion.