FORMER MILLBURY POLICE OFFICER CLAIMS WRONGFUL TERMINATION

A police officer whose firing in 2012 was overturned by an arbitrator last summer has sued the town and its representatives for civil rights violations and wrongful termination, among other charges.

Police Detective Kimberly Brothers’ suit was filed Jan. 17 in federal court in Worcester, naming the town of Millbury, Board of Selectmen Chairman E. Bernard Plante, Special Lt. Richard F. Bates and Special Maj. Edward J. McGinn Jr. as defendants.

Lt. Bates and Maj. McGinn are Worcester Police Department officers who were hired by Millbury officials to conduct internal affairs investigations, including investigating Detective Brothers. Maj. McGinn, a deputy chief in Worcester, is Lt. Bates’ superior in the Worcester Police Department.

Millbury officials fired Detective Brothers in August 2012, after an investigation, for allegedly harassing three residents of the town and excessively texting on duty. The action was overturned by arbitrator Timothy J. Buckalew in July 2013, who found the town had not met its burden of proof on either claim.

The wrongful termination lawsuit claims Detective Brothers was intentionally harmed by the town in its investigation of her and in its delay to comply with the arbitrator’s order to reinstate her to her former position with no loss of seniority, rank or benefits and to pay her for lost wages, overtime and paid details she would have otherwise received.

“It was clear that this was a sham from the beginning,” said Timothy M. Burke, Detective Brothers’ lawyer, about the investigation that led to her termination.

He said the town had not paid Detective Brothers back wages until the wrongful termination lawsuit was filed.

Mr. Plante and Town Manager Robert J. Spain Jr. said they had not read the full complaint since they received it Wednesday and had no comment.

Lt. Bates and Maj. McGinn did not return phone calls for comment Thursday.

Detective Brothers had been assigned by former Police Chief Richard L. Handfield to investigate allegations against another Millbury police officer, Daniel Daly, according to the lawsuit.

In August 2011, after Detective Brothers had uncovered evidence of potential wrongdoing by Officer Daly, Lt. Bates was hired to investigate Officer Daly.

One of the 10 allegations against Officer Daly, engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer, was sustained.

The lawsuit claims that Lt. Bates was biased against Detective Brothers because she had filed a complaint about him when he was an instructor of hers in criminal justice studies at Anna Maria College.

“As a result of improper bias against plaintiff by defendant Bates, the purported ‘investigation’ into the wrongdoings of Officer Daly quickly morphed into an investigation of the plaintiff,” the lawsuit says. “On March 13, 2012, the Board of Selectmen hired Bates to conduct an investigation into Ms. Brothers’ alleged misconduct.”

The lawsuit continues that Lt. Bates had an additional conflict of interest when he applied for the vacant Millbury chief of police position while in the midst of investigating Detective Brothers.

However, the chief’s job wasn’t posted until October 2012, after Gov. Deval L. Patrick approved removing the position from civil service and seven months after the investigation into Detective Brothers was completed.

Detective Brothers’ lawsuit asks for punitive damages in addition to all compensatory damages, benefits and legal fees.

“She was wrongfully terminated and put out of a job for a year,” Mr. Burke said.

He added that Detective Brothers suffered personal and financial distress and her reputation was damaged by the attention the case received. “Prior to this she had an excellent reputation.”

If you have any questions about wrongful termination, please contact our Firm: www.LineschFirm.com

Article by Susan Spencer, visit: www.Telegram.com 

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