Court rules with city of Basehor in wrongful termination suit
The United States Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court’s judgment against an officer claiming he was fired from the Basehor Police Department for exercising his First Amendment rights.
Jason C. Cory, who was hired to the department in 2007 and fired in July 2010, filed a lawsuit in July 2012 seeking damages for wrongful termination, breach of contract, violation of civil rights and infliction of emotional distress, alleging that he was fired after voicing concerns about unsafe practices in the department. A district court made a summary judgment in the police department's favor.
On appeal, Cory asked the court to reconsider one issue: whether the police department terminated his employment in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights. In a Nov. 12 ruling, the Court of Appeals sided with the city, which said Cory was fired for losing the trust of his superiors after recording a conversation with Chief Lloyd Martley without permission and for his inability to get along with his co-workers.
In his original lawsuit petition, Cory said he made complaints within the department, which included officers disappearing or sleeping on the job and officers putting shotguns into patrol car trunks, where they were inaccessible. He said as a result, he was ostracized and belittled by others in the department.
Cory then recorded a conversation between himself and Martley as they reviewed Cory’s reports and concerns. Upon discovering the conversation was recorded without his permission, Martley suspended Cory without pay.
Cory was fired about two weeks after being placed on suspension. In court documents, Martley said his employment was terminated “due to his inability to get along with his co-workers and because he lost the trust of his command staff.”
The court found that Cory’s complaints were made as part of his duties as an officer and his First Amendment rights were not violated.