NEW ORLEANS – A 20-year veteran of a county jail in Texas won an appeal against a district court decision that granted summary judgment in favor of his former employer who he alleged wrongfully demoted him and essentially forced him to retire.
Richard Dickey Haverda, a former jail supervisor at the Hays Country Sheriff’s Office, argued that he was demoted to corrections captain and then corrections officer because of his support for the opponent to Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler in a 2010 election.
Haverda wrote a letter to the editor that was published in local newspaper favoring Cutler’s opponent and claims that this was the real reason why he was demoted, and not the alleged poor conditions in the county jail that were under his command as claimed by the Hays Country Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office claimed Haverda’s letter was not the reason for his demotion and moved for summary judgment.
The Appeals Court noted that the “district court inappropriately made credibility determinations and weighed the evidence” when it granted summary judgment.
In a per curiam opinion, Circuit Judges Jennifer Elrod, Stephen A. Higginson and District Judge Phillip R. Martinez reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment nothing that Haverda had a “clearly established constitutional right not be fired for engaging in protected speech.”
Case No. 12-51008