Main | Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mississippi Sheriff: Even If We Fired Cop For Being Gay, There's No Law Against It

In October we learned that the ACLU is suing a Mississippi sheriff's department over the firing of police officer Andre Cooley, who was outed after calling for help in a domestic dispute with his partner. The Forrest County Sheriff's Department has is now denying wrongdoing because there's no state or federal law against what they did.
Cooley claims the firing was because of his sexual orientation. But in an answer to Cooley's lawsuit, the sheriff's department argued that no federal or state statute exists in regard to firings over sexual orientation, and that Cooley was an at-will employee who worked "solely at the pleasure of the Forrest County Sheriff." Cooley filed the lawsuit in federal court. He is seeking punitive damages, court costs, attorney fees and an injunction reinstating him as a corrections officer. Bear Atwood, one of Cooley's American Civil Liberties Union attorneys, said a significant body of case law exists that protects public workers. "What it fails to do is give any legitimate reason why he would've been fired," she said of the response filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Hattiesburg. "It basically says that it would have been OK to fire him because he's gay."
At the time of the firing, Cooley's boss said that cops who get into domestic disputes "don't speak well for people in law enforcement." We can only presume that female cops that get battered by their spouses are immediately fired too.

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