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Douglas County Sheriff's Office sued for wrongful termination

A former deputy with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office has filed a lawsuit claiming employment discrimination when he was terminated in May of 2010. The lawsuit claims his termination was in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. His wrongful termination suit alleges Sheriff's Office supervisors made negative comments about the plaintiff's military service, including one comment from a supervisor that the plaintiff was letting his team down when he attended reserve duty.

The plaintiff worked in the Douglas County Jail after being hired by the Sheriff's Office in April 2008. The suit also alleges the plaintiff was wrongfully denied a promotion to the patrol unit and was subjected to repeated harassment by supervisors because of his service in the Air Force Reserves. The lawsuit goes on to say that Sheriff supervisors had accused him of falsifying his military orders and contacted his Air Force Reserves supervisors telling them the Sheriff's Office was conducting an investigation of the plaintiff.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office has denied discriminating against the former deputy and said his military service was not a factor in the department's decision to terminate him, according to an attorney for the department. The attorney said the decision to terminate his employment was based on 'legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons.' No violations were found in a review of the plaintiff's claim by the Department of Labor, the Office of Veteran's Employment and Training and the Department of Justice.

Defending against claims of employment discrimination, including harassment and wrongful termination, can be an extremely time-consuming and costly endeavor for both large and small businesses. Although there are legitimate claims of employment discrimination, some cases are brought by a disgruntled employee in retaliation for being legitimately fired or laid-off. When a claim of employment discrimination is brought against an employer that employer needs to assert its right to terminate an employee based on business needs and fair employment practices.

Source: ABC 7 News, "Deputy Says Douglas County Fired Him Over Air Force Reserve Duty," Alan Gathright, July 11, 2012

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