By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
In an interesting wrongful termination case, filed on January 20, 2012 in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, a police lieutenant, in the Town of Wareham, Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit against his town alleging a number of improprieties in his firing. In particular, the police lieutenant involved had been terminated for the alleged improper use of his town-issued cell phone, in addition to allegedly using his position as a police officer to sell alarm systems.
Apparently, the backstory in this case involved elected officials who apparently were not fond of the lieutenant related to a promotion issue and sought to have him disciplined by the Town Administrator. The Town Administrator asked the Chief of Police to review the allegations at issue and he refused to imposed serious discipline as a result of a lack of a telephone policy within the Department. As a result, the Town Administrator was apparently placed on leave by the Board of Selectmen for not taking stronger action against the lieutenant.
Of important note is the fact that the lieutenant appealed his termination to the Civil Service Commission who reviewed the termination and unanimously voted that the lieutenant had been wrongfully terminated. The police lieutenant was given his position back and awarded back pay for his losses. The police lieutenant returned to his position in June, 2011. For the actions associated with the wrongful termination, the police lieutenant filed suit and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in addition to attorney fees.
A copy of the Complaint is attached here. Download Bliss v Wareham