ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska has agreed to settle for $85,000 with a former state employee whose application was rejected because she supported the recall of Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
The out-of-court settlement was announced Monday by the Alaska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Keren Lowell, a former employee for the Alaska State Council on the Arts.
Lowell had worked for the Alaska art council in 2019 when Dunleavy vetoed the organization’s funding and caused Lowell to lose her job. Lowell then became involved in his recall effort.
When the Alaska Legislature restored the arts council’s funding and Dunleavy approved it, Lowell reapplied for her job. She was told over email that her application was rejected because of “statements made on social media about the governor.”
The ACLU had threatened legal action but no lawsuit was filed before the settlement. The ACLU cited state law that prohibits the state from using “political beliefs” as a reason to hire or not hire a person for most state jobs.
The governor’s office deferred comment on the matter to the state Department of Law, which did not respond to questions by the Anchorage Daily News on Monday.
Lowell’s settlement agreement said the state did not admit any wrongdoing. The Alaska Legislature has to weigh whether to approve the payout. The settlement is for back pay and “noneconomic damages,” the document said.