Former Officer Sues Bristol, Claims He Was Wrongfully Terminated & Harassed
A former Bristol Borough police officer is suing the municipality and several officials.
Officer Justin Gross has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Bristol Borough, Bristol Borough police, Chief of Police Steve Henry, Borough Manager Jim Dillon, and Mayor Joe Saxton.
According to a source and public records, the Bucks County Sheriff’s Office served borough officials with the lawsuit that claims wrongful termination and retaliation earlier this week.
Gross, a patrolman, was injured in March 2014 when a woman rammed his vehicle. This news organization reported at the time that Gross’ Ford Crown Victoria police vehicle was rammed during a police chase.
In the lawsuit, Gross said he suffered various injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, major depression, PTSD, a herniated disc, a high groin sprain, an injury to his right meniscus, and a lumbar disc protrusion.
Due to his injuries, he returned to work and was stationed in the police department office doing work with records. He ended up being prescribed a service dog to assist with panic attacks and anxiety. Gross claims that Henry, the police chief, made “derogatory” comments about service dogs, alleging the top cop called them “ridiculous.”
In November 2017, Gross said he was forced to assemble a 100-pound ergonomic chair despite have bending and lifting restrictions placed on him by a doctor, the lawsuit claims.
In 2018, Gross’ work area was moved to the supervisor’s space with locked storage are so he could store documents for a confidential audit he was working on. After moving to the supervisor’s area, Gross began to have issues with work equipment being removed by other borough staff. He had two sergeants tell him he did not belong in that area and had his chair and other items being moved to his old desk. He also claims his ethernet cable was unplugged, trash was thrown on his desk, his phone was logged out, and an Amazon Alexa device was used to order condoms, according to the lawsuit.
In January 2019, Gross claims the locked storage area at his desk was broken into and files with “sensitive information” were taken.
The police chief asked about the files and Gross said he felt harassed, claiming the police chief then called him a “sixth grader,” the lawsuit states.
The harassment, according to Gross, left him unable to return to work.
In March 2019, the borough reportedly sent a memo to Gross stating that he had been placed on “no pay” status.
In August 2019, the borough offered him a job as a plainclothes officer in the administrative offices. The borough manager “made a determination” that Gross was not permitted to have flexible hours to attend appointments related to his injuries, according to the lawsuit.
Before he returned, Gross’ doctor wrote a note stating he was not authorized to return to work and the officer filed a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint relating to the alleged workplace harassment, the lawsuit claims.
The mayor offered Gross another job in October 2019, the lawsuit claims.
In November 20, 2019, Gross was honorably discharged by Dillon with authorization of Bristol Borough Council.
Gross, according to the lawsuit, took a financial hit due to being terminated and suffered distress and humiliation.
Dillon told LevittownNow.com the borough will respond to the lawsuit in due time.
“I wish I could comment, however our legal counsel advises against it. The Bristol Borough Police will continue to focus on providing public safety to its residents and visitors,” the police chief said in response to the lawsuit.
Robert Maizel, Gross’ attorney, declined to comment further on the case.