Sheriff responds to federal discrimination lawsuit

Attorneys for Freeborn County officials including Sheriff Bob Kindler have filed a response to a lawsuit brought by a former jail administrator.

Marcellino Pena was fired in 2012 after a county investigation determined that some coworkers felt threatened or harassed by him, and that he would do things like watch movies while on duty.  The Minnesota Court of Appeals previously ruled in favor of Freeborn County.

Pena filed suit in federal court in February, claiming race discrimination and violation of his First Amendment rights.  He is seeking to be rehired and awarded damages of more than $200,000.  Court documents allege that because of discrimination, Pena “has suffered wage loss and emotional distress.”

In its response filed Tuesday, defendants Sheriff Bob Kindler, Chief Deputy Glen Strom, and Freeborn County deny that Pena is entitled to any relief.

“Defendants and its agencies an employees… acted with legal justification,” the defense response states.  “Plaintiff’s injuries, if any, are caused by the acts or omissions of Plaintiff.”

The defense is asking a judge to dismiss the complaint, or have the case tried by a jury.

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