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Lawsuit Claims Asheville PD Punished Cop For Serving National Guard Duty

Asheville, NC – An Asheville police sergeant has filed a federal lawsuit against his police department for discriminating against him and demoting him after he was involuntarily activated by the N.C. National Guard.

The complaint filed on Feb. 24 said that Asheville Police Sergeant Brett Foust joined the National Guard in 2020 and served multiple tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cuba, before he joined the Asheville Police Department (APD) as a patrol officer in 2014, the Charlotte Observer reported.

He was promoted to sergeant in 2015.

Sgt. Foust was involuntarily activated by the National Guard in April of 2020 to assist the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services in its contact-tracing efforts, the Charlotte Observer reported.

That deployment was short and he returned to the police department before the end of May of 2020.

He was back on patrol in time to assist with the APD response to protests following the death of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police, and was named Officer of the Month in July of 2020, WLOS reported.

Then in August of 2020, Sgt. Foust became a field training officer (FTO) for his police department, a position that came with a pay raise, according to the lawsuit.

He was involuntarily activated again a month later by the N.C. National Guard and spent most of September of 2020 through March of 2021 managing food bank operations for western North Carolina through some of the worst months of the pandemic, the Charlotte Observer reported.

The complaint said that when Sgt. Foust was scheduled to attend prequalifications for firearms instructor training in October of 2020 while he was on guard duty, he took the class on an unpaid volunteer basis since he was technically on military leave, WLOP reported.

And he got permission from Asheville police brass to do so, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also alleged that APD asked Sgt. Foust to work on an unpaid, volunteer basis on multiple other occasions while he was serving in the National Guard because they needed help due to staffing shortages and he did it, WLOS reported.

The lawsuit said that while the sergeant was serving in his guard unit, a new patrol captain took the helm of his division at APD and shortly thereafter, the Sgt. Foust lost his field training officer position and the pay raise that came with it.

Sgt. Foust’s National Guard tour was involuntarily extended in December of 2020 so he used leave to return to the police department early to participate in scheduled training, WLOS reported.

However, the lawsuit said that when he got back, the department wouldn’t let Sgt. Foust attend the federal leadership training session because he was “just returning to duty.”

The complaint said that Sgt. Foust was also denied firearms instructor training in September of 2021 after it had already been approved by a supervisor even though the denial caused his prequalifications to expire, WLOS reported

Sgt. Foust’s lawsuit said that when he returned from National Guard duty in May of 2021, several members of Asheville police leadership targeted him and denied his equipment requests.

After having had a flawless record for his entire career leading up to his break for military duty, the complaint said the sergeant suddenly found himself the subject of multiple write-ups and baseless investigations, WLOS reported.

When he complained about the treatment he was received to his captain, that official told him several times that he just “needed to show up to work,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said Sgt. Foust told his police chief he was concerned that he was being retaliated against for his military leave, the Charlotte Observer reported.

The chief told Sgt. Foust he “would not tolerate retaliation but that people will find a way to retaliate,” according to the complaint.

Sgt. Foust injured his wrist in the line of duty in June of 2021 and was on light duty when APD suddenly revoked his police powers, confiscated his firearm, badge, and vehicle, and placed him on indefinite administrative leave pending a fitness for duty evaluation, WLOS reported.

An APD physician found him fit for duty but ordered another evaluation before signing off.

He was finally pronounced fit for duty and allowed to return for light duty in December of 2021, WLOS reported.

But the lawsuit claimed that another sergeant was promoted into Sgt. Foust’s position with the patrol division in February.

The complaint alleged that Asheville police violated the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act that is supposed to protect member of the military from discrimination in their civilian places of employment, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Attorneys for Sgt. Foust have requested a jury trial and are seeking to have their client restored to the same rank, position, and pay that he was earning prior to reporting for National Guard duty, WLOS reported.

The Asheville police have refused to comment on the pending lawsuit.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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