Posted at: 12/13/2013 7:35 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4
More than a dozen Albuquerque police officers claim they endure or endured a hostile work environment.
In a case filed on Thursday, the officers alleged age discrimination against the city, the Albuquerque Police Department, and the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association.
The officers who filed the case are casually referred to as “double-dippers.” The city rehired them after they retired, which means they collect a salary on top of a pension.
“They're treated like outcasts, they're made fun of, they have these derogatory terms, yet they're the ones that are the backbone of the police force right now, protecting everybody,” attorney Trey Dayes said from his office in Phoenix, Ariz.
He specializes in federal labor laws and said one of the officers involved in the case sought his assistance in October.
“Federal law prohibits discrimination based on someone's age. And the basic line for that is that anybody over 40 is in what they call a protected class,” Dayes said.
The officers claim they’re given less priority in work shift assignments, are provided with the most used and least functional gear and equipment, and are subjected to hostility from non-rehired officers, supervisors, and management.
Albuquerque City Attorney David Tourek said that the city will “vigorously” defend itself. He said the officers signed an agreement and knew full well there were limitations placed on someone earning a city salary while collecting a city pension at the same time.
“For the sake of getting their pension, and working for the city in the field, they gave up certain conditions that they would expect,” Tourek said.
He said had the officers not retired they could have maintained their seniority and the perks that come with it.
Meanwhile the Albuquerque Police Officers Association said the new police contract, which will be reviewed by officers beginning this weekend, should account for the concerns raised in the lawsuit.
Attorney Dayes said if in fact the contract meets his clients’ expectations they’ll discuss ways to resolve the case, but he said they’ve been skeptical for years.
“Before I got involved, they told me that many times the city has given them lip-service about this, in that agreement which has been pending for a long time, and nothing's ever happened,” he said.