|By Judy Walton, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"It had nothing to do with work-related stuff -- it was just to get rid of me because I had an affiliation with the man who might be the next sheriff of
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in
Ruth declined Friday to comment on pending litigation.
Longwith, who was a court officer for Chancellor
"The Plaintiff asserts that this was a subterfuge to rid the Department of a potential
The suit states that the
The suit also claims that Watson, then a sheriff's office captain and fellow Republican, "was given the choice of either being fired or resigning voluntarily. He chose to resign in the face of threats of termination. ... (t)he plaintiff would assert that he was effectively terminated to eliminate a potential political rival."
In an interview, Watson said that when Ruth took over in 2010, "there was a bunch of changes and demotions and degrades in pay and stuff that went on that I didn't go along with at all. I was very vocal about that."
He added, "There were dozens of people affected by pay cuts and demotions when
Watson said he is considering running against Ruth in the 2014 Republican primary, but he hasn't made a final decision.
"Law enforcement has always been my dream, always been my career," he said. "A lot of people are showing encouragement to me to run for sheriff cause of my background in law enforcement."
Longwith said he's not been able to find steady work in law enforcement since his firing. He's lost his income, his health insurance and his retirement, he said.
"I worked there 10 and a half years and never had but one write-up in my file. I was going to retire from there; then they messed that up," he said.
"The way they're handling their personnel over there -- this is my opinion -- they don't have the right to do that."
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