Federal Judge Dismisses Policeman's Lawsuit

FRANKFORT, KY -- A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former Lexington police officer who alleged that he was discriminated against because he was Hispanic and forced to resign, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Hood, in an order entered this week, dismissed the lawsuit filed by Chris Fernandez, who worked as a police officer from November 2004 to July 2005. In his lawsuit, Fernandez alleges that some Lexington police officers treated Hispanics unfairly, that officers made racial comments around him and that he was ostracized after he refused to arrest a Hispanic man on a domestic violence charge.

The city, in its response to the lawsuit, said Fernandez was on probation at the time he was asked to resign. Fernandez received poor job reviews and had been accused of sexual harassment by female police officers and members of the public, a charge that Fernandez's attorney, Shane Sidebottom, denied.

In his order, Hood said that because Fernandez was on probationary status at the time he resigned, he did not have the same protections as full-time police officers. Hood also dismissed Fernandez's other claims that the city tried to ruin his name and reputation by releasing information about him. Fernandez signed a form saying that the city could release his personnel file to the Elsmere Police Department, where he had applied for a job after leaving Lexington, Hood noted. Hood also dismissed several other charges that Sidebottom said Friday could be refiled in state court, including infliction of emotional distress.

Sidebottom said Fernandez is working in Iraq, and he has not yet talked to his client. Fernandez could appeal Hood's decision or refile some of the lawsuit in state court.

Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Newberry, said Friday that the city had no comment about the lawsuit, which was filed in 2006 before Newberry was elected.

Copyright: Lexington Herald-Leader


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