GREENSBURG, Pa. - A Westmoreland County sheriff’s deputy says he’s been discriminated against because he’s part of the Marine Corps Reserve and must fulfill those obligations when duty calls.
Part-time Deputy Jonathan Sutton is suing the Westmoreland County Sheriff claiming that he’s been passed over for countless promotions even though he’s qualified for the job. On Wednesday, he filed a federal lawsuit.
Sutton served on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps and is now in the reserve. His attorneys claim that his current obligation to serve his country is being used against him at his current job.
“This should never happen. No soldier who makes the sacrifice for this country should have to sacrifice their job in any circumstance,” said Timothy O’Brien.
Sutton and his attorneys claim he's been passed over for at least 12 promotions, and that less-qualified deputies were given those positions.
“There have actually been statements made by decision makers that persons with these reserve obligations are not going to be promoted because of the very fact that they go out on deployments and may be absent from work,” O’Brien said.
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Sutton's attorneys say he's protected under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, and his desire to serve the country as a reservist should be valued.
"This is an individual who has really dedicated his life and his career to law enforcement and doing those types of things,” said Alec Wright.
Sheriff Jonathan Held, who is currently facing corruption charges as well as a county investigation sparked by charges that his office discriminates base on race, released this statement: “Once again, we do not discriminate against anyone for any reason in the Sheriff’s Office. This claim is especially atrocious because my grandfather was a World War II veteran. We have over 10 active Military Personnel and Veterans employed in this Office. The facts of this case will come out, and in the end, it will prove to be just another piece to a Political Witch Hunt.”
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