Lawsuit: Former Polk County HR director claims Board of Supervisors ‘is run by fear and intimidation’

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Polk County’s former human resources director has filed a lawsuit against the county and its Board of Supervisors for “abhorrent behavior.”

Jim Nahas, who served with the county from 2014 until this January, filed the lawsuit alleging libel, wrongful discharge, and extortion on Monday.

In the lawsuit, Nahas claims the Polk County Board of Supervisors “lacks cohesion, is run by fear and intimidation and is a good example of substantial organizational dysfunction.”

Polk County spokesperson Jon Cahill said the county would not comment on a lawsuit in progress.

Nahas details a series of allegations within his lawsuit. He claims the board ignored a sexual harassment complaint from an unidentified employee and attempted to downplay another employee’s claims about a hostile work environment.

Nahas also outlined several claims against supervisor Tom Hockensmith. Nahas alleges Hockensmith attempted to create a job for a family member, then became upset when Nahas publicly posted the position.

Additionally, Nahas claims Hockensmith retaliated against him after Nahas recommended firing a close friend of Hockensmith who was accused of sexual harassment and other violations.

Nahas also alleges the selection of John Norris as Polk County Administrator drove a rift between the board. He claims Hockensmith and fellow supervisor Angela Connolly planned to cause “maximum political damage” to another supervisor, Matt McCoy, for voting against Norris.

An attempt to reach Hockensmith at his home was unsuccessful.

Nahas claims he was fired in January one day after writing a complaint about retaliatory behavior towards him from the board. He alleges an attorney working on behalf of other board members secretly recorded conversations he had with Nahas in an attempt to disparage McCoy.

There is no date set for when the lawsuit will move forward in court.

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