A New Jersey police officer is suing the police department for harassment after he was wrongfully labeled a gambling addict.
Corporal Rick Vanderclock claims he was sent to a rehab facility for gambling addicts after someone anonymously called the department to say he had played scratch-off lottery cards while on duty.
In a report from NJ.com, the 16-year veteran from Wayne, New Jersey, filed a 41-page complaint on July 10.
Vanderclock claims he was ordered by Police Chief James Clarke to attend a rehab facility at his own expense in Florida for 30 days, or face losing his job.
According to his attorney, Ralph P. Ferrara, during his time in rehab he was subjected to treatment that was “punitive, harassing, humiliating and discriminatory because he did not and does not have a gambling problem.” The lawsuit adds that he doesn’t have a gambling debt.
Vanderclock stated that he bought scratch-off lottery tickets with fellow officers before he was sent to rehab. He also pointed out that, while the Wayne Police Department forbids illegal gambling, legal gambling is not.
The lawsuit indicates that scratch-off lottery tickets are legal in, and sanctioned by, the State of New Jersey. Legally purchasing scratch-off lottery tickets while on duty is not prohibited by the department.
It argues that Vanderclock’s treatment for gambling addiction was “useless” and that he was unlawfully suspended, without pay, for 20 shifts amounting to 12 hours each.
“Not a real affliction”
Vanderclock is also suing the police department for the treatment he received after he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
After responding to a car fire and seeing the driver burn to death, the officer became “deeply disturbed.” As a result, he was “temporarily disabled” and unable to report to work.
According to the plaintiff, the chief of police trivialized PTSD as “not a real affliction” and made Vanderclock stay at home against the wishes of two doctors. One of them was concerned that extended isolation would only worsen his symptoms.
While on leave, Vanderclock also missed out on the chance to take a promotion exam because he wasn’t notified when it would take place.
Breakdown in working relationships
On top of that, the lawsuit argues that Vanderclock was disliked by the police chief because of his support toward fellow Officer Erik Ferschman. Ferschman was fired in 2015 after taking a meal break without permission. He was later reinstated by a judge after taking his case to court.
Due to being labeled a gambling addict and for his treatment of PTSD received at the police department, Vanderclock is seeking unknown punitive and compensatory damages along with a jury trial.