Lawsuit claims former deputy was forced to end engagement with felon and then ultimately fired

Peter Duncan, a former deputy with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office in Detroit, has filed a lawsuit against his former employer claiming he was forced to break off an engagement with a woman convicted of a crime five years ago and ultimately lost his job. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A deputy's lawsuit against his former employer, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office in Detroit, in which he alleges supervisors forced him to end his relationship, has been transferred to the U.S. District Court.

Peter Duncan, in a lawsuit initially filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, claims that, in 2017, he was engaged in a relationship with a woman, who had previously pleaded guilty approximately five years ago to discharging a firearm in a building. She was sent to probation and also allegedly sought to have her conviction expunged, The Detroit News reports.

According to Duncan's lawsuit, once undersheriff Daniel Pfannes learned of the relationship, he reported it to Sheriff Benny Napoleon in early 2018. Pfannes’ brother-in-law, it was noted in the lawsuit, was formally married to the woman Duncan was seeing.

After Sheriff Napoleon received the information, a captain in the Internal Affairs office was directed to investigate. This captain informed Duncan he should "request permission" to be in a relationship with the woman through his chain of command.

In a memo to his supervisor, Duncan stated he was engaged to the woman and did not believe it would be a "conflict in any way of me performing my duties."

In February 2018, Napoleon sent Duncan a memo referring to a sheriff's office standard of conduct. The code of conduct allegedly prevents officers from "personal associations" with felons or anyone who known to have engaged in “felonious or criminal behavior.” Duncan was further informed that Napoleon would not "make an exception to this rule.”

Following the memo, Duncan ended his engagement and relationship with the woman. After doing so, Duncan discovered he was being charged with violating department policies. Following an administrative review, Duncan was relieved of his duties at the Wayne County Sheriff's Office. He had served the county since 1998.

According to Duncan's lawyers, some of his colleagues' significant others had been convicted of crimes as well, but they were never penalized for their relationships. Pfannes, also, was never investigated for ties to his former sister-in-law.

Duncan is seeking back pay and damages for lost earnings and legal fees.

A representative for Wayne County Sheriff’s Office's did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.

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