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Deerfield officer sues department claiming discrimination over military service

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101916-wls-deerfield430-vid (WLS)

A north suburban police officer is suing Deerfield and the town's police chief.

Todd Smith claims they discriminated against him for serving in the military.

Patrolman Smith says he'd never thought he'd have to choose between serving his community and serving his country.

But that's exactly what the veteran Deerfield police master officer claims he's had to do after he says his own department discriminated against him because he's a U.S. Coast Guard reservist and often called away to serve.

The 45-year-old husband and father worked for the north suburban police department since 1997.

Smith says the problems started in 2005, soon after he became a Coast Guard reservist and requested military leave.

In his lawsuit filed in Chicago federal court, Smith accuses his supervisors of passing him over several times for promotion to the rank of sergeant because of his military service obligations and retaliating against him when he complained about it.

His attorney says their actions violate the Federal Uniform Service Employment and Reemployjent Rights Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against service men and women when they're called to voluntary or involuntary service.

To date, Smith has submitted duties orders several times for extended periods of six months and was on continuous active duty from November 2011 through June 2015.

Attorneys for the village of Deerfield say they can't comment on an ongoing lawsuit, but in a statement said, "The village and its police department remain dedicated to supporting their employees who are also military service members."

The Reserve Officers Association, a group that advocated for reservists, says Smith's situation is not unique.

Meanwhile, Smith has been called up again but still hopes to help others by talking about what he says is happening to him.
Related Topics:
newslawsuitcoast guardmilitarydiscriminationpolice officerDeerfield
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