Sea Girt Police Officer Awarded Over $1.5 Million for Military Service Discrimination Lawsuit

Sea Girt, New Jersey – A Sea Girt police officer has been awarded over $1.5 million in damages and nearly $600,000 in attorney fees by the Appellate Division. The officer, Kenneth Hagel, claimed that he was denied a promotion and faced discrimination due to his military service obligations with the U.S. Navy Reserve.

In 2013, Hagel, who was serving as a full-time patrol officer in Sea Girt, alleged that he was denied the opportunity to apply for the position of sergeant. He filed a lawsuit, known as Hagel v. Sea Girt, in Monmouth County Superior Court in April 2014. The lawsuit claimed that Sea Girt’s Chief of Police Kevin Davenport, along with the borough and the police department, violated the Law Against Discrimination.

The Appellate Division’s ruling upholds the jury award of more than $1.5 million in damages and nearly $600,000 in attorney fees for Hagel. The court found merit in his claim that he was unfairly treated and denied promotion because of his military service obligations. The decision not only provides financial compensation to Hagel but also highlights the importance of respecting the rights of individuals serving in the military.

Discrimination based on military service obligations is a violation of the Law Against Discrimination in New Jersey. The case serves as a reminder that public entities, such as police departments, should ensure equal opportunities for advancement for all employees, regardless of their military commitments.

Hagel’s legal victory sets a precedent and reinforces the protection of service members’ rights. The ruling sends a message that individuals who face discrimination or prejudice due to their military service can seek justice and hold accountable those who violate their rights.

This case sheds light on the ongoing need to promote a supportive and inclusive environment for military personnel within all sectors of society. By recognizing and addressing cases of discrimination, we can work towards creating a more equitable and accepting society for those who serve our nation.