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City asks judge to dismiss police officer’s suit

WILLIAMSPORT — The city of Lock Haven has asked a federal judge to dismiss the suit of a former police officer who claims he was wrongly fired in 2018 in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a document filed Tuesday in U.S. Middle District Court the city contends Bryan Burger was not disabled as defined by act and that his termination followed required Civil Service procedures and the collective bargaining contract.

The city cites a Jan. 31, 2018, memo to Burger from Chief Kristin Smith that outlines his extensive disciplinary history and concerns about his job performance with respect to several specific incidents.

In a Feb. 6, 2018, response, Burger submitted his own memo pointing out Smith was only acting chief.

He also called for a state attorney general’s investigation of the city for “criminal acts of an elected official” and alleged his daily activity reports were being unlawfully reviewed.

Seven days later Smith directed Burger to submit accurate daily activity reports for that Jan. 17 and 18.

Burger responded alleging the directive constituted workplace harassment and retaliation. He threatened legal action.

City Council on June 18, 2018, voted to terminate Burger based on the recommendation of city Manager Gregory Wilson.

A neutral arbitrator on May 6, 2019, sustained the city’s decision to terminate Burger’s employment.

The arbitrator found there was no connection between the disciplinary decision and the city-ordered psychological exam of Burger.

The arbitrator found the psychologist did not address the incidents that led to disciplinary action.

The psychologist found Burger met the criteria for attention deficit disorder and for at least an adjustment disorder with mixed anxious depressed mood.

Burger contends the psychological impairments substantially limited comprehension, concentrating, thinking, communicating sleeping and performing the requirements of daily living.

Burger was hired in 2008 and had been promoted to corporal but resigned that rank in November 2017.

According to city records Burger had been reprimanded on Nov. 11, 2013, underwent disciplinary training on June 16, 2015, and was suspended without pay on Oct. 25, 2016.

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