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Suchocki v. The Incorporated Village of Northport (Challenging failure to rehire dockmaster due to protest activity)

This case concerns a village board’s failure to rehire an individual because of his recent protesting activities. In 2001, Michael Suchocki was hired as a dockmaster by the Incorporated Village of Northport. He was then rehired for both the 2002 and 2003 seasons. In October 2003, Suchocki began engaging in certain lawful activities in support of the village’s police chief and to protest charges that the village had filed against the police chief. These activities included attending a rally in support of the chief at the American Legion Hall and parking his truck, with protesting signs attached, outside of the mayor’s ice cream parlor. Subsequently, Suchocki’s application for renewal as the municipal dockmaster for the 2004 season was rejected by the mayor. The mayor openly stated that Suchocki’s application had been rejected because the mayor disapproved of Suchocki’s conduct regarding his protest activities.

On Oct. 8, 2004, the NYCLU filed a complaint seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief against the defendants for wrongfully failing to hire the plaintiff to the position of dockmaster. The NYCLU claimed that it is clear that Suchocki was not hired because of activities protesting the treatment of the police chief, and therefore the village and the mayor had violated his First Amendment rights. In the summer of 2005, both parties decided to settle. The settlement agreement consisted of monetary compensation for Suchocki. Although the settlement did not require the village to rehire Suchocki, he was rehired as dockmaster the following year. 

(E.D.N.Y., Index No. 04 Civ. 4366) (direct)

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