A former Richfield Police officer is suing the city for the third time.
After winning two suits based on age discrimination claims against his former employer, Greg Peterson filed another lawsuit against the city of Richfield last month.
Peterson is claiming the city used an on-the-job injury as pretext for terminating his employment, but that the real reason for his termination was his previous legal action against the city.
Peterson, 54, won an age discrimination suit in 2013, when he alleged he was removed from the police department’s Special Investigations Unit based on his age. He won a subsequent suit this past November as he claimed discrimination as a result of his first suit.
Now, Peterson is seeking compensation for his termination from the Richfield Police Department last July. In a response to Peterson’s complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court, the city denies that Peterson was terminated because of past lawsuits, and claims Peterson was provided “all due process” following his injury.
The plaintiff kicked down a door to aid an unresponsive woman in a residential home in August 2015, and said he suffered a herniated disc in the process, an injury that occurred while his previous suit was still before the court.
According to the plaintiff’s court documents, Peterson finished physical therapy in April 2016. He alleges he could have returned to work through a “work hardening” program that would gradually re-acclimate him to the job, but that he was not afforded that opportunity.
Peterson further claims that before an employment hearing that preceded his termination, he was sent a letter from City Manager Steve Devich that amounted to the threat of termination should he not settle his second suit. The city denies that assertion.
It became clear during the hearing itself, the plaintiff claims, that the city had already determined to fire Peterson, an interpretation of the dialogue disputed by the defense.
The plaintiff claimed during the hearing that his rehabilitation consultant was not contacted by the city as it considered his ability to return to work, but Devich noted the city had access to other medical records in evaluating his condition.
The plaintiff also asserts that the city violated state statute when his termination was not submitted to the Richfield Civil Service Commission for review, another interpretation the city rejects. The plaintiff claims the commission would have overturned his termination.
Peterson is seeking compensation for lost wages he would have received had his employment not been terminated.
Contact Andrew Wig at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RISunCurrent.