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Three laid off police officers sue borough

Published September 05. 2013 08:11AM

Three former full-time police officers, who were laid off by the Borough of Coaldale, have filed a suit in Schuylkill County court seeking reinstatement and payment of lost wages and benefits.

The suit was filed on behalf of Charles A. Blesse, 1019 Clamtown Road, Rush Township, who was employed as a full-time police officer beginning Oct. 14, 2008; Keith A. Krapf, 29 Bull Run St., Coaldale, who was employed as a full-time police officer beginning Sept. 15, 2005; and Todd Weiss, 160 E. Phillips St., Coaldale, who was employed as a full-time police officer beginning July 1, 2007.

On March 1, 2012, all three were laid off by the borough for economical reasons.

At the time of the layoff, Blesse and Weiss received an annual salary of $41,140.80 and Krapf $43,804.80, with fringe benefits set forth in a collective bargaining agreement reached between the borough and the Fraternal Order of Police.

The suit claims that prior to their layoff the borough's police department consisted of four full-time police officers and two part-time police officers. After the layoff the force was reduced to one full-time and seven part-time.

The three allege in the suit that after their layoffs, the police department increased in size and the number of hours worked by both full-time and part-time officers increased due to the use of more part-time officers.

The three former officers claim they were not laid off in a good faith reduction in the police department's size for economic reasons as claimed by the borough

The three refer to the borough code dealing with employing full-time officers claiming the code reads that the borough may reduce the number of paid employees in its police force for economic reasons so long as it does so in good faith and it results in a reduction in the size of the police force.

But under Section 1190 of the borough code, a borough, for economic reasons may not replace its full-time police officers with part-time officers and are seeking to compel the borough to take affirmative action which would validate those rights, status and legal relations.

The three former officers claim they are entitled to continued employment, which includes the salary and fringe benefits set forth under the collective bargaining agreement.

They charge the borough with violating the borough code and seek reinstatement to full-time status with a salary and fringe benefits as set forth under the collective bargaining agreement and compensate them for any loses, including back pay and fringe benefits, attorney fees and costs of prosecution.

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