Former municipal job candidate files federal employment discrimination suit against township

Jon Campisi Jul. 29, 2011, 9:40am

A Luzerne County, Pa. man who claims he was not hired as manager of a suburban Philadelphia municipality because of his membership in the U.S. Army reserves is suing the locality in federal court.

John J. Murphy, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., alleges that he had more professional experience than the other candidates interviewed for the position of township manager in Radnor Township, but was denied the job because of his status as military reservist.

Through the complaint, which was filed July 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Wilkes-Barre attorney David P. Tomaszewski, Murphy alleges that Radnor hiring authorities, which included the township board of commissioners and the then-interim township manager, discriminated against him because of his military commitments.

According to the complaint, Murphy learned of the job opening in the spring of 2009 and immediately applied for the position.

During a subsequent interview with then-interim manager John Granger, Murphy was told that his “military background and integrity would be a perfect fit” for the position, the lawsuit states.

In a July 2009 interview with township commissioners, Murphy unveiled that his membership in the Army reserves might mean he would have to be away on leave from time to time. Still, Murphy was eventually told he was in the running for the job, according to the suit.

Eventually, however, Murphy was told that he would not be called back for a second interview, since “some of the board members have serious concerns about your ongoing military obligations,” according to the complaint.

Another job candidate was then hired for the position of Radnor Township manager.

“The actions and omissions of Defendant in failing to hire the Plaintiff due to his military and/or reserve obligations … were outrageous, extremely offensive, intentional, and discriminatory against Plaintiff, and were performed with malice and reckless indifference to Plaintiff’s legally protected rights,” the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit alleges that Radnor Township violated the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act, as well as Pennsylvania’s Military Affairs Act.

Murphy seeks compensatory and punitive damages, specifically, he would like the defendant to issue him back pay in an amount representing all benefits of employment that would have been received “had the unlawful faire to hire not occurred,” the suit states.

Murphy also seeks attorney’s fees and related costs. He had demanded a jury trial.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-04743-PBT.

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