LOCKPORT – Former Lockport Police Capt. Jeffrey H. Brodsky claims in a lawsuit against the city that he was told to retire in 2010 or face a Police Board hearing aimed at demoting him.
That was the climax of two years of alleged harassment that led to Brodsky’s retirement, according to the suit, filed in State Supreme Court. It buttresses a complaint Brodsky filed two years ago with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asserting he was the subject of anti-Jewish remarks in the department as he worked on light duty after a serious injury in 2008.
“I disagree with what he’s saying. Other than that, there’s nothing really that I can say,” Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert said. “The city vehemently denies those allegations. I would term them preposterous,” Deputy Corporation Counsel David E. Blackley said.
Brodsky’s attorney, Jon R. Wilson, said that the EEOC proceeding remains his primary focus, but he faced a Nov. 1 deadline to file a state lawsuit if he ever was going to file.
“We were in some negotiations. The case was pending with the EEOC. A couple of weeks ago, we had a last-ditch negotiating session, but the statute [of limitations] was running out on the state causes of action, and my hand was kind of forced. I had to protect Mr. Brodsky’s best interests. I haven’t given up hope that this can be settled without having to litigate the matter,” Wilson said.
Blackley said he wouldn’t call the conferences at the EEOC “negotiations.”
“The city looks forward to our day in court,” he said.
The suit doesn’t mention a specific monetary damage demand, but Wilson said he has a figure in mind.
Brodsky, who joined the force in 1980, was promoted to lieutenant in 1991 and to captain in 1999.
On Nov. 1, 2008, Brodsky fractured his right ankle in a fall while trying to quell a domestic violence incident. The ankle was reassembled with surgical screws and a metal plate, and for a while, Brodsky couldn’t walk unaided. He took a leave of absence for about a month and then returned to light duty. He didn’t return to full duty until August 2009.
However, during that time, Brodsky continued a part-time job he had as an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Niagara County Community College. The lawsuit claims this was the trigger for the harassment, as Brodsky was working a second job while not handling full duty at the Police Department.
The suit says the city changed its policy on light duty as a result of this situation and subjected Brodsky to several disciplinary proceedings for “minor clerical errors and/or issues with processing paperwork.”
The lawsuit also says that unnamed city employees “made offensive remarks and comments regarding Mr. Brodsky’s Jewish religion/ethnicity/national origin related to his working a second job while on light duty with the [city].”
In October 2010, Brodsky was hit with a three-day suspension for “a minor clerical error,” the suit alleges. That’s when he was allegedly told to quit or face a demotion hearing. He was given a Nov. 1, 2010 deadline to decide what to do. Brodsky retired. Wilson said the EEOC has not yet ruled on whether probable cause exists for a federal court lawsuit.