Fired Westmoreland public defender sues for job back
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Fired in March after 41 years as Westmoreland County's chief public defender, Dante Bertani sued the county Thursday claiming he was dismissed because he's a prominent Democrat.
Mr. Bertani, of North Huntington, fired at age 80, wants his job back, plus compensation for humiliation and lost wages as well as punitive damages from the county, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court.
Mr. Bertani served as chair of the Westmoreland County Democratic Committee. After Republicans Charles Anderson and Tyler Courtney became the majority commissioners in January, they told Mr. Bertani to retire, according to the complaint.
Mr. Bertani refused. So the majority commissioners fired him and replaced him with Wayne McGrew, a Republican who had made several past bids for county office, the complaint said.
The firing violated Mr. Bertani's rights of free association and equal protection, according to the complaint, which named as defendants the county, Mr. Anderson and Mr. Courtney.
First Published September 21, 2012 12:00 am