Two former sheriff's deputies claim that they were fired because of their political leanings, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Bedford County. The conflict is rooted in one of the plaintiff's run for local office against his boss from an opposing political party. The two men were fired from their jobs two days after the election. They say that none of the campaign activities interfered with their job duties.
Our attorney, Samuel J. Cordes is representing the plaintiffs, who believe that the firings were retaliatory and in violation of constitutional rights and federal civil rights statutes protecting free speech for matters of public concern. The former deputies are asking to get their jobs back and to be awarded their lost pay and benefits, in addition to some general damages and attorney's fees.
Constitutional rights to free speech are among the most closely guarded civil rights by the Supreme Court. It has been continually reaffirmed that political speech is of significant value to public discourse and a healthy democracy. Wrongful termination suits are brought when someone believes they were fired for an illegal reason, including various types of discrimination.
The deputy says he never approved any negative advertising about his boss and is not in violation of any department rules. The sheriff's office says that the two men did violate some of the written policies of the department.
This case will continue to unfold as the parties enter the alternative dispute resolution process.
Source: Altoona Mirror, "Political activity fuels suit," Feb. 29, 2012.