Commission Rules in Favor of Woman Claiming to Have Been Forced from Job

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights has ruled in favor of a Fairbanks woman who claims she was forced from her job by her boss’s incessant criticism of her religion. The commission has ordered Goldstream General Store owner Paul Kopf to pay Lynn Dowler over $76,000 in lost wages.  Agency attorney Steve Koteff says Kopf used the store as venue to talk up his Christian faith, and make derogatory comments about Catholicism.

Koteff says Dowler’s case is somewhat unusual, because three fellow former employees backed up her story.

The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights was established in 1963 to enforce the state’s civil rights laws. Its decisions can be appealed in Superior court, and Kopf, who denies down talking Catholicism, intends to.

Kopf says the accusations stem from a broader dispute between him and the former employees. He says Dowler and the three others, including her daughter, became upset and quit because he changed their work hours.

Kopf says Dowler and the others are trying to financially ruin him. The Commission for Human Rights ruling in Dowler’s favor includes both back and future wages. Dowler worked at the Goldstream Store for 27 years prior to quitting in 2009, and the Commission’s Koteff says she hasn’t been able to find a comparable job.

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