Five Richfield Police Officers Sue City for Age Discrimination

Updated: 03/14/2014 6:09 PM
Created: 03/14/2014 4:42 PM
By: Naomi Pescovitz

Five Richfield Police officers are suing the City of Richfield for age discrimination. They say they were denied promotions and special assignments because of their ages.

The case was filed in Hennepin County court late last year. It includes Officers Greg Peterson, 51, Souphanny Dean, 44, Brian Rogge, 47, Michael Sieve, 45 and Jeff Hatzenbeller, 54.

Patrick Burns, the attorney for those officers, says depositions will begin in the next few days or weeks.

"They are hardworking, they're diligent, they do extraordinary things and they make it look easy," Burns said.

Each of the officers involved has spent 15 years or more with the department. All five still work for the Richfield Police and are among the 45 sworn officers in the department.

Last year, Peterson won a separate age discrimination case against the city. He was awarded nearly $12,000.

"These are not disgruntled employees. If that was the case, they could have probably retired by now," Burns said.

According to the suit, the department kept the officers from promotions by denying them training, changing the testing process or cutting open positions all together when an older officer applied.

"You have to treat people equally. If it’s not okay for citizens to engage in illegal conduct, it's not okay for the police chief," Burns said.

The City of Richfield responded to the lawsuit with the following statement:

"The City denies the allegations made by the police officers in their Complaint. The assignment and promotional decisions these officers object to were made based on merit, not age. For this reason, and because the lawsuit is factually and legally without merit, the city has asked the Court to dismiss it. The City's motion to dismiss is currently under consideration by the Court. The City will not comment any further while the matter is pending in the courts."

Burns says this suit calls for more than $2 million in damages.

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