After filing a discrimination complaint with the Montana Human Rights Bureau last year, a former head of the Office of the State Public Defender has taken her case to district court.
Randi Hood, 66, is alleging age discrimination and a violation of constitutional rights in her lawsuit against the agency.
She says she was passed over for a position as an assistant public defender in the Helena office because of her age. Two younger applicants with fewer qualifications were chosen over her for two open positions in 2015, the suit alleges. Both candidates were at least 20 years younger than Hood.
The youngest applicant, who is more than 30 years younger than Hood, had less than four years of experience as a public defender, the suit states. Hood has more than 35 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney.
Hood is asking for a position as an assistant public defender in addition to damages, including lost wages and compensation for emotional harm.
Hood left the public defender's office in February. In her time with the agency, she served 18 years as head of the regional office in Helena.
Hood once was chief public defender for the state and opted to step down from the position in 2011 stating she wanted to return to the courtroom. She last worked with the agency in its Major Crimes Unit.
In addition to the age discrimination issue, Hood also alleges her former employer released constitutionally protected information about her to third parties without her consent.
A call to the current head of the agency was not returned.
The suit was filed in Helena district court on Sept. 30, after the Montana Human Rights Bureau issued a notice of right to sue concerning her discrimination claim.