WYOMING — A police sergeant with more than two decades experience resigned last month following an alleged pattern of retaliation stemming from a pending whistle-blower lawsuit against Wyoming Borough and its mayor.
Michael Fuller was “constructively discharged” on or about April 28 while serving a 15-day unpaid suspension the veteran officer claims was without just cause and in violation of the borough’s collective bargaining agreement, according to an amended complaint filed Friday in federal court.
A constructive discharge occurs when an employee resigns as a result of a hostile workplace.
Fuller, a 21-year veteran of the borough police department, filed the complaint Nov. 17 in federal court, claiming his free speech was violated when he blew the whistle on alleged misconduct by borough manager Tamra Smith. Smith, who is also the girlfriend of Mayor Bob Boyer, allegedly “fixed a bid” for an equipment sale involving the Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI.
After reporting Smith, Fuller claims Boyer interfered with hours he worked as an officer in Forty Fort and Luzerne boroughs, something the suit claims no other officer encountered.
Boyer, the suit alleges, warned Fuller he may be disciplined due to his outside employment, despite there being no restrictions in the borough’s collective bargaining agreement on hours worked outside the borough.
The emergence of the lawsuit prompted Fuller to be “subjected to even more retaliatory acts,” including denial of sick pay, clothing allowance and access to the locks at the police and street departments, according to the complaint.
The veteran officer also received unpaid suspensions totalling 20 days, illustrating “a continuing campaign of harassment,” Pittston attorney Cynthia L. Pollick wrote in the complaint.
Despite being under suspension, Fuller received further disciplinary notices accusing him of insubordination, the complaint says. The disciplinary action prompted a Loudermill hearing April 28, and Fuller effectively resigned around the same time, according to the complaint.
Wyoming officials have denied wrongdoing in the matter.
Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL.