Officer sues city of Port Arthur, alleges harassment for using comp time

Police Officer Cory Cole has filed suit against the city of Port Arthur, alleging the police department has made him the target of harassment and retaliation for requesting compensatory time off.  The suit was filed Feb. 21 in Jefferson County District Court. According to the lawsuit, Cole has been with the Port Arthur Police Department for five years in Special Weapons and Tactics, Field Training Officer Program and K-9 Unit. Due to the hours he spends working in these units, Cole has acquired significant compensatory time off. On Aug. 10, 2011, Cole’s supervisor, Terry Chance, denied his request for use of comp time. Afterward, Cole contacted Chance’s supervisor, Martin Blitch, to make him aware of the refusal. Eventually, Cole filed a grievance with the president of the police association. And although Major Dennis Odom issued a direct order to allow Cole to use this time off, Chance and Blitch ignored him, the suit states. The suit goes on to allege Cole’s supervisors attempted to demote him for his use of comp time, have denied him a promotion and issued negative work reviews. On Jan. 24 Cole met with Odom about the alleged retaliation and was told nothing more would be done. “At this final meeting Odom threatened Cole’s employment by stating ‘I heard a rumor that you may be filing a lawsuit … if you do so that can ruin your reputation and your career in law enforcement,’” the suit states. “As recently as February 15, 2013, during a shift meeting, one of the evening supervisors, Sgt. Lloyd stated ‘a person on evenings takes comp time once a week and (expletive) his buddies over.’ Cole confronted Lloyd and stated ‘If you are going to talk about me, you might as well use my name…’” Cole is alleging violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Texas Whistleblower Act. He is suing for his mental anguish, compensatory damages and attorney’s fees. Port Arthur attorney Langston Adams represents him. Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, is assigned to the case. Case No. A193-971

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