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(Updated 5:15 p.m.) It’s taken years, but Connecticut State Trooper Joseph Mercer won a civil rights settlement against the Connecticut State Police Union and the Department of Emergency Services for demoting him after he opposed union membership. 

The Connecticut State Police Union said Monday it played no role in the agency’s decision to remove Mercer.

Mercer, according to the National Right to Work Foundation, which represented him, walked away last week with a $260,500 settlement when the case was dismissed against the police union and the state with prejudice. 

“We at the Foundation are proud to have defended Sergeant Mercer’s rights and secured him a settlement that vindicates his free association,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said. “However, it’s disgraceful that CSPU union officials targeted Mercer, a dedicated public safety officer, with such a vicious retribution scheme in the first place. Public servants should not have to endure multi-year lawsuits just so they can refrain from supporting union politics they oppose.”

Mix said the decision “demonstrate(s) why the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME decision,” was so important. 

“As was obvious in Mercer’s case, unelected public sector union bosses often wield their enormous clout over government to serve the union’s private interests over the public interest,” Mix added. “That’s why it’s vital that public employees can exercise their First Amendment Janus right to cut off all financial support of union bosses who are contorting government in this way.”

Mercer’s lawsuit was filed back in 2016.

According to the complaint, Connecticut State Police Union President Andrew Matthews filed a grievance against Mercer saying he mismanaged the shooting incident where an armed suspect barricaded himself in a hotel room. According to Mercer’s attorney, state police officials never expressed dissatisfaction with how Mercer handled the situation.

In October 2015, state officials transferred Mercer out of his Operations Sergeant position to an administrative post. That new position gave Mercer substantially fewer opportunities to work in the field or accrue overtime pay. Prior to this demotion, Mercer had received no warnings, reprimands, or other disciplinary actions regarding the incident referenced in Matthews’ grievance.

Court documents show Matthews denies the allegations made by Mercer. 

The Connecticut State Police Union said Monday that it offered Mercer $500, “a nuisance value” which Mercer accepted in this case.

The union says the settlement has nothing to do with Mercer’s right to freely associate with the union.

It goes on to say that the National Right To Work “falsely” reported that Mercer’s union status was a predicate for his removal from the position and inaccurately reported that Matthews filed a grievance against him.

“No grievance was filed having anything to do with Mercer’s union membership status. All grievances filed related to ESU were based on the “selection process” that the Agency used in placing Troopers in the role of ESU Operations Sergeant, which is required per the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA),” the union stated. “In fact, CSPU filed a grievance against the Agency following the Agency’s placement of a union member in Mercer’s former position when the agency failed to conduct a selection process as required by the CBA.”

The decision was made with prejudice. 

A spokesman for Tong said Monday, “We’re pleased that the parties involved were able to resolve this matter.”