Veteran officer was transferred out of prestigious SWAT position for asserting his workplace rights
Hartford, CT (March 3, 2016) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Connecticut State Trooper has just filed a lawsuit in United States District Court against the Connecticut State Police Union (CSPU), the CSPU’s president, and Connecticut’s Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. According to Sergeant Joseph Mercer, he and other troopers suffered retaliation from union officials for exercising their workplace rights.
Sergeant Mercer, a veteran state trooper, is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in 2015 that alleges CPSU officials refused to allow nonunion employees to opt out of paying dues for union politics. Sergeant Mercer says that he was then transferred from a prestigious post because he resigned from the union, refrained from supporting its political agenda, and is involved in the lawsuit.
In May 2015, Sergeant Mercer was appointed Operations Sergeant to the Emergency Services Division, a prestigious command position that entails significant responsibility for SWAT training and field operations. Although Sergeant Mercer has seventeen years of SWAT experience, CPSU President Andrew Matthews made several attempts to meet with state police command staff to protest Sergeant Mercer’s new position because of his nonunion status. In June 2015, Matthews filed a grievance against Sergeant Mercer’s appointment. Matthews’ grievance claimed that there had been no “selection process” to fill the position, despite the fact that none of Sergeant Mercer’s union-member predecessors had undergone any kind of selection process before they got the job.
In October 2015, Matthews successfully lobbied the Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services to have Mercer transferred out of the Emergency Services Division to an administrative post. Mercer’s new position gives him substantially fewer opportunities to work in the field or accrue overtime pay. The transfer order could cost Mercer approximately $50,000 in pensionable overtime pay per year.
Prior to his transfer, Mercer had never received any warnings, reprimands, or other disciplinary actions during his career as a Connecticut State Trooper. Mercer’s lawsuit seeks his reinstatement as Operations Sergeant in the Emergency Services Division and compensatory damages for the decrease in his overtime pay opportunities.
“Union bosses just can’t stomach employee dissent, or even the mention of rights that employees have to refrain from union activities,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Instead of respecting Mercer’s rights to refrain from joining the union and supporting its political agenda, the CSPU’s president launched an ugly campaign to deprive him of a position he obtained on his own merits.”
“Law enforcement officers shouldn’t have to endure workplace reprisals for standing up for their rights,” continued Mix. “We hope this lawsuit holds CSPU bosses accountable for their retaliatory actions.”