Age discrimination discounted in Smyrna man’s application to be probation officer

DOVER — Citing alleged “odd” and “bizarre” past behavior a judge dismissed a Smyrna man’s lawsuit claiming age discrimination blocked his attempt to become a probation and parole officer in 2015.

Todd S. Morrow maintained that the Delaware Bureau of Community Corrections mischaracterized a training incident that ultimately brought his downfall as a job candidate, and claimed deliberate age discrimination was instead present.

According to a DBOCC motion requesting a summary judgment, hiring panel member Richard Figurelle recalled an earlier training exercise when Mr. Morrow allegedly tackled an instructor during a pepper spray demonstration, bringing a recommendation not to offer a job interview.

In a seven-page order last Friday Superior Court Judge Ferris Wharton noted that Mr. Morrow volunteered to be pepper sprayed, then reportedly lunged at an instructor, grabbed his legs and took him to the pavement after the substance was pointed his way.

The court determined that a reported “bizarre training incident” was “a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for not interviewing Morrow.”

According to Judge Wharton, Mr. Morrow offered no evidence that the incident was a pretext or fabrication for the DBOCC not hiring him due to age.

“Indeed, Morrow did not depose anyone in the case, even Figurelle, and he did not submit any affidavits to contest the DBOCC’s explanation for not hiring him,” Judge Wharton wrote.

“Morrow instead attempts to sidestep this burden by arguing whether Figurelle mischaracterized the incident that took place years ago [when he was previously a DBOCC employee].

“However, a dispute whether Figurelle mischaracterized an incident that took place in the past is wholly unrelated to age discrimination.”

Mr. Morrow filed a complaint against the DBOCC on Oct. 28, 2015, after not being hired as an entry level probation and parole officer. On Nov. 23, 2016, the DBOCC argued in a motion for summary judgment based on legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its decision. The matter was submitted to Judge Wharton last Wednesday.

“Therefore, the panel declined to offer Morrow an interview despite his exceptional qualifications,” the Court wrote, acknowledging the DBOCC’s rationale.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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