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Former OCPD officer files discrimination lawsuit

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By Andrew Henderson

A former Oldham County Police Department employee is now suing the department, alleging they denied him a job because of his age.

Dennis Clark worked for the county police department for 22 years and retired in 1995, according to documents filed with Oldham County Circuit Court.

Following his retirement, he worked as a contractor in Iraq, worked for homeland security for six years and recently started a new job with the West Buechel Police Department in Louisville.

Clark is 65-years-old.

“We believe this is a textbook case of age discrimination,” Clark’s attorney Joseph Gaines told the Era.

According to the suit, the Oldham County Police, or someone acting on their behalf, contacted Clark around May 2018 because the department was understaffed and they wanted Clark back on the force.

Clark then met with Chief of Police Colonel Greg Smith who allegedly told Clark he wouldn’t hire him because of his age and Smith had “younger guys in the pipeline.”

Clark passed the physical test, interview portion and background check for the position around July 2018. He later received a letter in September stating the department would not be hiring him.

“Upon information and belief, the Chief of OCPD informed others both that he would not hire Plaintiff Clark, and that he did not hire Plaintiff Clark because of the Plaintiff’s age,” the suit states.

Under Kentucky’s Civil Rights Act, individuals over the age of 40 are considered a protected class of people in regards to employment.

This means it’s an unlawful practice for an employer to fail, refuse to hire or to discharge an individual because of their age or discriminate against an individual in regards to employment.

The suit alleges Clark suffered “adverse employment action” when he was not hired for the position and that his age was a “substantial motivating factor” in the decision to not hire him.

Carol Petitt, the attorney representing the county police in the suit, said the department did not discriminate against Clark in any way.

“This lawsuit is ridiculous. Neither the county nor its police department discriminated against Mr. Clark in any way and we will prove that in short order,” Petitt said.

Gaines said Clark had little to gain by being employed with the department, saying he would be either making the same amount of money or less than where he’s currently employed.

If anything, Gaines said Clark would have been an asset to the department because he was willing to have the department use his specifically trained police dog, which the suit says has recovered “thousands of dollars worth of evidence for the police.”

“I think the county would have benefitted way more by hiring Officer Clark,” Gaines said.

The case was filed Dec. 26, 2018. According to the suit, Clark is seeking judgment on his complaint, a trial by jury and compensatory damages among other demands.