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FOX 13 Investigates: Central Utah police board discriminated against former legislator, state agency says

Posted at 9:24 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 09:13:49-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Before he represented Herriman in the Utah House of Representatives, Carl Wimmer was a police officer.

After leaving the Legislature in 2012, Wimmer put on a badge and a gun at the Gunnison Valley Police Department. When the job for chief came open in November of 2020, Wimmer and two others applied.

“Some of the questions that were asked during the interview were a little bit suspect,” Wimmer told FOX 13 on Wednesday.

The Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division came to agree with what Wimmer suspected – that the Gunnison Valley police board passed over Wimmer due, at least in part, to his religion.

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Wimmer used to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has since become an Evangelical pastor.

Board members did not return FOX 13’s messages Wednesday afternoon. The police department protects the towns of Gunnison and Centerfield in central Utah. The board includes the mayors of the two towns.

“There shouldn’t be a religious test for running for office, of course,” Wimmer said, “but there shouldn’t be a religious test for chief of police as well, and it appears that there was.”

Wimmer filed his complaint after the board hired a candidate with less experience and who, according to the UALD report, is a Latter-day Saint.

The UALD report, provided to FOX 13 by Wimmer, said board members denied discussing religion. Yet, when the investigator listened to audio recordings of the board’s deliberations, the report says, members referenced Wimmer’s “preaching” and Youtube videos where he discussed his faith.

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The division also agreed Wimmer was the only candidate who met all the job qualifications, and said the board also discriminated against Wimmer’s age.

The ruling is a rare one. A 2017 audit found UALD ruled in favor of the employee in less than 1 percent of cases.

Wimmer on Wednesday said religion “simply has no bearing on my ability to do the job or the fact that I was without question the most qualified to do the job.”

He retired from law enforcement at the end of 2020, but contends he’s still owed damages. Wimmer said he and the police board have been negotiating; if a settlement can’t be reached, he plans to file a lawsuit.

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