WILKES-BARRE — Former city administrator J.J. Murphy has filed a lawsuit against the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners, claiming he was not hired for a job because of his military commitment.
According to a story in The Philadelphia Inquirer, lawyers for Murphy and the township are scheduled to meet this week to discuss a possible trial date on Murphy’s claims that the commissioners discriminated against him on the basis of his military service.
Murphy states the suburban Philadelphia board did not hire him in 2009 “because they worried that his commitment to the Reserve would require him to leave town too often.”
Attorney David Tomaszewski of Wilkes-Barre is representing Murphy. He said a trial date has been set for Feb. 24 in U.S. Eastern District Court, Philadelphia.
Tomaszewski said the suit was filed after Murphy learned that some members of the board “had a problem with his ongoing military commitment.” The suit was filed in July 2011. The suit was dismissed in favor of the defendants and that decision was overturned by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
Murphy, 42, said he is in transit to Tyndall Air Force Base to report for military service. He said he filed the lawsuit “based on principle” and on behalf of his family. Murphy is a major in the Air Force Reserves.
“I’m standing up for my rights,” he said.
Tomaszewski said that after interviewing for the Radnor position, Murphy did not receive a second interview and subsequently had a discussion with the interim township manager, John Granger, who told Murphy some supervisors “had a problem” with his military commitment.
Murphy noted the federal Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act prohibits employers from using a job applicant’s military commitments against him or her in hiring decisions. Murphy was hired earlier this year as city manager of Hobbs, N.M. He is seeking back pay and damages.
According to the Inquirer story, a lawyer representing Radnor, Joseph J. Santarone, disputed that Murphy’s military record influenced the commissioners’ decision. Santarone told the Inquirer the current manager was chosen because he was more qualified.
The Inquirer story states Murphy applied for the position in 2009 that was vacated by David Bashore, who was fired by the board for allegedly paying unapproved bonuses to himself and other township employees.
Murphy served as Wilkes-Barre administrator 2004-10.
In the court papers, Murphy states that as a direct result of the supervisor’s actions, he suffered “loss of employment, loss of compensation, loss of employment benefits, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and other compensatory and consequential damages.”
In its response, Radnor Township denies any violations of federal law occurred. The township says Murphy was in the “second tier” of candidates and not deemed qualified for a second interview.