Brian Wurts, a former Lakewood officer and police union president has settled in a federal lawsuit following allegations that he was fired because of his involvement in the union, for being outspoken against officials, and for his sexual orientation.
The department never gave an official public reason for his termination, stating instead that it was “a personnel matter”. The department’s attorney claims that he lost his job for failure to act. The department that fired him unofficially claimed that they did so because of the case against former officer Skeeter Manos, who was arrested for stealing memorial funds set aside for families of officers slain in 2009.
They claim that Wurts knew of Manos’ actions and did not take action against him. Manos makes no such claims. Wurts claims he knew nothing of Manos’ actions and that the department was looking for a reason to dismiss him.
He was officially fired in December 2012, after an administrative leave during which he was investigated by his own department. The FBI investigated him and cleared him of this crime when they did their initial investigations against Manos, who pleaded guilty and received just under three years in prison.
Wrongful termination suits for sexual orientation are on the rise, and whether or not this was the Lakewood Police Department’s motivation, the case will set a precedent for future employers considering terminating an employee because of their sexual orientation or any other aspect of their personality that does not affect the job.
Brian Wurts has made waves in his department in several ways. While under investigation it was discovered that he had sex, while on duty, with a fellow officer. The department does not list this a the reason for dismissal. He has also spoken up for Manos during his investigation in his role as union president. Whether it was his sexual orientation, behavior on the job, or outspoken role as union president, he made some enemies high up in the department. When the information all came to light in the lawsuit, it seemed better for some to settle.
The lawsuit settlement payment that Brian Wurts received was $150,000, he has not been available for comment after the settlement of his wrongful termination lawsuit. The city counter sued in this case, but their claims were dismissed as a part of the settlement.