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Ex-worker sues Sheriff's Office

An Inverness man Thursday sued his former employer, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office, and alleged that the agency violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Florida's Civil Rights Act.

George A. Brodeur seeks a jury trial and more than $15,000 in actual and punitive damages.

Brodeur was a sergeant at the Citrus County Jail in October 1990, when he says he injured his back while breaking up an inmate fight. He underwent surgery in July 1991 and returned to duty three to four months after that, his suit says.

He said he later reinjured his back when trying to restrain a suicidal inmate and, as a result, missed between four and five months of work.

In February 1993, Brodeur says his superiors, citing his physical condition, demoted him to a communications officer and lowered his pay. He said he still could perform his job duties, even with his injury.

The Times received a copy of the lawsuit late Thursday and was unable to review Brodeur's personnel records.

Brodeur says he left the Sheriff's Office because he physically could not perform in his new job, which requires officers to sit for up to 10 hours each shift. He said his supervisor could have switched him to a job that held the same rank and pay scale.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in a letter dated March 31, said the Sheriff's Office had not violated the ADA in Brodeur's case. But that finding does not prohibit Brodeur from filing suit.

Brodeur further seeks protection under the civil rights legislation, since he says he has a handicap as defined under that law.

Brodeur also names Citrus County and Sheriff Charles Dean as defendants in the suit. No trial date has been set.