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Office politics play role in wrongful termination case

A deputy sheriff sued his former department after he was fired, and the lawsuit earned him a $300,000 settlement. The case stemmed from an incident back in 2012, when the deputy sheriff opposed the re-election of the county sheriff. He used Facebook to campaign against the sheriff's re-election -- but when the sheriff found out about the deputy's actions, he tried to fire him.

However, it was determined that the sheriff couldn't fire the deputy for his Facebook activity. That's when the sheriff started looking for reasons to fire the deputy, so claims the deputy in question. Ultimately, the sheriff did fire the deputy for "failing to follow the rules and regulations," a broad rationale that seems like a catch-all explanation for why the deputy was fired.

The county settled with the deputy before an eight-day trial was set to being in a U.S. district court. The deputy claims that the sheriff created a hostile work environment and an atmosphere where employment was contingent on your political alliances seemed to hold some water.

It's unfortunate, but there are many workplaces out there that created tense atmospheres by allowing politics or personal vendettas to permeate throughout the workforce. For these politics or personal feelings to dictate how personnel decisions are made is despicable, and an affected employee should consider his or her employee rights in the wake of such a terrible incident. A wrongful termination can absolutely ruin a person's career, making it very difficult for them to continue their career or to even have the earning power they once had.

Source: Bellingham Herald, "Whatcom deputy's wrongful termination lawsuit settled for $300K," Ralph Schwartz, April 1, 2014

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