Lawsuit: Longtime Myrtle Beach officer fired because of age discrimination, nepotism

Lawsuit: Longtime Myrtle Beach officer fired because of age discrimination, nepotism

From WMBF News Partner

A longtime Myrtle Beach police officer who lost his job in July sued the agency last week, alleging in court papers that he was fired because of his age and a staff member's desire to see her boyfriend promoted.

Filed Thursday by former MBPD Capt. John Kennedy, lawsuit names the department, Police Chief Amy Prock, City Manager John Pedersen and Angela Kegler, the city's human resources director, as defendants.

City spokesman Mark Kruea said he was not aware of the lawsuit and added that the city typically doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Kennedy said in court papers that he worked for the department from 1980 until he was fired in July. He was named lieutenant in 2008 and in 2014 he was promoted to captain.

But Kennedy argues the department changed when Chief Warren Gall stepped down on May 25. Prock was made interim chief at that time.

Shortly after Prock's promotion, Kennedy alleges she and Pedersen changed the qualifications for the captain's position by removing the requirement of a college degree.

In early July, Kennedy learned the department was hiring an assistant chief and the position was only available to captains within the agency.

The job would have been a promotion for Kennedy, who applied for the post.

Kennedy's lawsuit asserts that he was the most qualified applicant, but Prock came to his office and told him there was no need to interview him for the position.

"During their conversation, Prock indicated to Plaintiff that it was her and Pederson's (sic) desire to bring in 'newer employees' and that as a result, Plaintiff's employment with the Defendant Myrtle Beach Police Department would be ending."

Kennedy maintains the department violated his contractual rights by not allowing him to follow through on his scheduled interview for the assistant chief position.

Prock told Kennedy to contact Kegler in human resources about his termination, according to the lawsuit.

Kennedy maintains he refused to sign his termination paperwork and told the human resources director that his firing constituted age discrimination, the lawsuit said.

When Kennedy met with the city manager on July 18, Pedersen told him his final day of employment would be July 31 "and that he (Pederson) could not have Plaintiff stirring up any trouble. Plaintiff responded by indicating that he never stirred up any trouble within the Department," the lawsuit states.

Later that day, Kennedy could not access his department email, according to the lawsuit. The following day, another captain told him he had been locked out of all systems.

Kennedy alleges in court papers that he was replaced by Kegler's boyfriend Joey Crosby, who had been a lieutenant in the department.

"Plaintiff is aware that Defendant's (sic) Kegler, Pederson, and Prock conspired and took affirmative steps to terminate Plaintiff in an effort to ensure that Joseph Crosby received his job despite the fact that Crosby is less qualified than Plaintiff and does not possess a college degree," the lawsuit states. "Defendants' actions have resulted in Plaintiff's termination from employment and Plaintiff incurring great physical and emotional distress."

Kennedy contends the agency concocted reasons to fire him.

"Defendant fabricated false and pretextual allegations to justify terminating Plaintiff's employment knowing such reasons were fraudulent and untrue and by denying Plaintiff a right to be considered for promotion," the lawsuit states. "Therefore, Defendant sought out and fraudulently breached the agreement between Plaintiff and Defendants by deliberately refusing to follow their own policies and procedures."

The former officer is seeking civil damages, back pay and front pay.

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