LELAND, NC (WWAY) — A former Leland police officer claims the town fired him improperly. Now his lawsuit against the town has moved to federal court.
Former officer John Blasingame says when he was fired in 2012, the town did not follow its own personnel policy, which Blasingame argues is an ordinance the town must follow.
Leland’s attorney Norwood Blanchard says tat is completely wrong. He says the policy is a resolution, which means it’s less formal.
Section 1 of the policy reads, “The employment relationship between the town and the employee is terminable at any time and with or without cause and with or without notice.”
“The town did comply with its personnel policy and certainly didn’t violate any due process
rights,” Blanchard said.
In his federal lawsuit, Blasingame says he was told he was discharged for multiple policy violations, including computer trespassing, assault by pointing a gun, conduct unbecoming of an officer and insubordination. But Blasingame says he had already been disciplined for the issues.
“He may not have agreed with the reasons for his termination, which is understandable,” Blanchard said. “Employees who are terminated often don’t agree with the reasons for their termination, but that didn’t make them invalid or improper reasons.”
Blasingame also objects to the fact that when he appealed his termination, the appeal was heard and decided by Town Manager David Hollis, who had a hand in the firing to begin with.
Blasingame also mentions his post traumatic stress disorder from his military experience. He says the town never took his condition into consideration. But Blanchard says that should not have been a factor, because pre-employment psychological screenings deemed Blasingame suitable to work.
The town requested the case moved to federal court based on Blasingame’s claim his constitutional rights were violated.
“The town intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit, and we anticipate that it’ll be dismissed,” Blanchard said. “The claims don’t have any merit.”
Blasingame was one of five officers fired or who resigned in the spring of 2012. He is the only one who did not lose his law enforcement certification. He currently works for the Navassa Police Department.
We tried reach Blasingame’s attorney for comment, but he has not returned our calls.