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"USERRA creates a protected class for Sergeant Montoya and those like him to ensure they return to their lives free of the rumors, harassment and hardships he endured," Kyle stated. "OCSD deliberately and maliciously ruined Montoya."
He is seeking financial sanctions against the department for failing to retain or purposefully destroying related Montoya records after officials had been put on notice about a potential lawsuit; Bernal last week asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert N. Block in Santa Ana to rule on the request, which OCSD protests is meritless because any missing records were innocently obliterated.
The former deputy, who is focusing on a Kenpo karate teaching career in Los Angeles County, did not respond to email requests for an interview, but the sheriff's department continues to fight his discrimination claims.
"After extensive discovery, [Montoya] still cannot provide any evidence that OCSD deprived him of any employment benefits due to anti-military animus," wrote Rossiter, who is also seeking summary judgment on the county's behalf from Bernal. "In contrast, OCSD favored Montoya's military service over and over again—nearly to the point of ridiculousness—causing strife with his co-workers."
Rossiter also noted that the veteran-loaded OCSD was honored in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Defense, which awarded the department the Freedom Award for its generous support of employees called to serve in the Armed Forces.
In his view, Montoya's lawsuit is misguided for a simple reason. Fellow deputies didn't harass him because he was a war hero or a veteran. Instead, explains Rossiter, they just didn't like him, and the law "does not protect someone from being disliked."
Such a stance disappoints Kyle, an accomplished Marine veteran. He has his own definitive explanation for Montoya's situation: "OCSD remains unrepentant."