Thursday, December 17, 2015

Officer who received disciplinary demotion is suing Medford for passing him over for sergeant position.

According to his July 2015 lawsuit, a former Medford Township (Burlington County) Police Sergeant claimed that he accepted a demotion to the rank of corporal in 2012 in order to accommodate the Township's decision, made for reasons of economy, to decrease the number of police officers and their ranks.  Former Sergeant Troy Chenier said, however, that nothing in the Township's ordinances recognized the "rank of corporal" and that the position was created in the Township's contract with the police union to allow senior patrolmen to receive stipends for performing supervisory duties in the absence of a sergeant or other superior officer.

Chenier claimed that he was entitled to be re-promoted if a sergeant's position opened up.  But, unfortunately for Chenier, he "was formally charged with certain misconduct violations."  According to Chenier's lawsuit, the charges caused him to suffer "demotion from the 'rank of corporal'"--presumably busting him down to patrolman.  He insisted, however, that the the disciplinary penalties did not cause him to lose his right to be promoted to sergeant when that position opened up. Chenier claimed that during the disciplinary proceedings, Township officials assured him that he was not disqualified.

When a sergeant's position was later created, Chenier sought it.  But, Police Chief Richard J. Meder told him that he "would not be automatically promoting you to the rank of Sergeant based upon your previous demotion."

The lawsuit argues that "the demotion from Corporal did not impliedly disqualify [Chenier] from his re-employment rights" and that "if the present promotional process proceeds and is not subjected to immediate judicial review, then another person other than the plaintiff will obtain a vested property interest in the title that the Plaintiff seeks which may prevent the Plaintiff from obtaining the relief that he seeks."