Guffey charges city with age discrimination

Posted May 19, 2020 at 1:36 pm

The City of Albany has been named in a civil complaint filed by a long-time former Albany Police Chief.

Ernest Guffey, through his legal counsel, filed the complaint in Clinton Circuit Court last Tuesday, May 12, claiming he was dismissed from his position with the city due to age discrimination under KRS 344.040.

The complaint claims the aforementioned statute “prohibits employment discrimination against persons aged 40 and over and/or retaliation for exercising such rights under the statute.”

The complaint notes the plaintiff is a resident of Clinton County, is over the age of 40, had worked for the defendant (city) since 1991, was promoted to Assistant Chief of Police in 1994 and to Chief in 1996.

It further states the plaintiff had been Chief of Police for at least six different mayors and maintained an excellent employment record during his time as Chief of Police. It also reads, “Venue is proper in this (Clinton Circuit) Court because defendant is located in Clinton County and the unlawful conduct occurred in Clinton County.”

Under the factual background of the complaint, it states the plaintiff held various ranks during his 28 years of employment; was appointed Chief of Police by Mayor James A. Brown in 1996; was responsible for training, promoting, and demoting law enforcement officers throughout his tenure; and worked with Lyle Pierce as his Assistant Chief of Police.

The complaint alleges that “During Mr. Pierce’s tenure with the police department, he made age-related comments directed toward plaintiff about plaintiff’s age.”

Further, while working as Assistance Police Chief, Pierce ran for Mayor of Albany and after being elected, was sworn in as mayor in January 2019.

The civil action further states that on January 9, 2019, the city, through Mayor Pierce, terminated plaintiff’s employment and replaced him with a substantially younger individual…alledging the newly appointed younger chief “lacked the experience plaintiff did to be Chief of Police.”

“Plaintiff would have been eligible for retirement within five years, prior to his termination,” the document states, adding, based on the disparity in qualifications between plaintiff and the newly hired chief, plaintiff believes defendant discriminated against him on the basis of age…defendant’s actions have caused plaintiff emotional and economic harm.

The plaintiff is seeking the Court to issue a declaratory judgment that determines defendant is in violation of KRS 344.040; plaintiff recover appropriate back pay, including reimbursement for lost salary, bonuses, incentive compensation, and other benefits in amounts to be shown at trial; recover prejudgment interest on any award of back pay made by the jury; the Court to award damages in the amount to be determined by a jury; the Court to award reinstatement or front pay; the Court to award plaintiff punitive damages, commensurate with the harm done; award of attorney’s fees, costs and litigation expenses; and such other relief as the Court deems just, proper, and/or allowable.

The civil action also states the plaintiff demands a trial on all issues.

Guffey is being represented in the suit by S. Cory Asay of Morgan & Morgan P.A. of Lexington and G. George Bertram, Recovery Law LLC of Jamestown, Kentucky.

As of press time Tuesday, May 19, the City of Albany had not filed an answer to the complaint.

(Editor’s Note: A civil action represents only one side of a matter, that of the plaintiff.)