State Trooper Gets $260,000 Settlement After Demotion For Not Joining Police Union

A Connecticut state trooper who charged that the State Police Union (CSPU) and Department of Emergency Services (DESPP) demoted him from a prestigious position for refusing to join the union membership and contribute to its politics won a $260,500 settlement.

State Trooper Joseph Mercer, whose case was represented by staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, was appointed Operations Sergeant of the Emergency Services Unit in May 2015. The next month, CSPU President Andrew Matthews filed two grievances targeting Mercer, one stating no “selection process” had been implemented to fill the position and another alleging Mercer had mismanaged an incident involving an armed suspect. In October 2015, Matthews reportedly met with Dora Schriro, then the Commissioner of the DESPP; Schriro subsequently transferred Mercer to an administrative post.

Mercer filed suit in 2016. In May 2022, a district court ordered DESPP Commissioner James Rovella, Schriro’s replacement, to turn over additional discovery.

“We at the Foundation are proud to have defended Sergeant Mercer’s rights and secured him a settlement that vindicates his free association,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix stated. “However, it’s disgraceful that CSPU union officials targeted Mercer, a dedicated public safety officer, with such a vicious retribution scheme in the first place. Public servants should not have to endure multi-year lawsuits just so they can refrain from supporting union politics they oppose.”

“Situations like these demonstrate why the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME decision, which the U.S. Supreme Court decided while Mercer’s case was ongoing, is so important,” Mix added. “As was obvious in Mercer’s case, unelected public sector union bosses often wield their enormous clout over government to serve the union’s private interests over the public interest. That’s why it’s vital that public employees can exercise their First Amendment Janus right to cut off all financial support of union bosses who are contorting government in this way.”

In late June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that non-union government workers could not be forced to pay union fees in order to work in public service jobs. Millions of teachers, first responders and other government workers were affected.

Plaintiff Mark Janus reacted, “I’m thrilled that the Supreme Court has restored not only my First Amendment rights, but the rights of millions of other government workers across the country. So many of us have been forced to pay for political speech and policy positions with which we disagree, just so we can keep our jobs. This is a victory for all of us. The right to say ‘no’ to a union is just as important as the right to say ‘yes.’ Finally our rights have been restored.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  State Trooper Gets $260,000 Settlement After Demotion For Not Joining Police Union