Longtime Cook County officer sues supervisor, sheriff for age discrimination after firing

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart was sued in federal court Tuesday for age discrimination.

In a decorated 50-year law enforcement career, Ronald Gaines worked for the Chicago Police Department for 28 years and then joined the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

He rose to become an assistant chief until his 2019 termination. His lawyers said his termination was strictly due to his age.

“I take it as a personal attack against my integrity,” Ronald Gaines said.

Among those named in the complaint is Gaines’ immediate supervisor, Carmen Ruff, and Sheriff Tom Dart.

“And to be looked upon as far as being terminated for a job that I love, in the position that I had, doing a good job, it was just unheard of,” Gaines said.

The lawsuit alleging that supervisor Ruff accused Gaines of not wearing a body cam, even though his lawyers claim he’d never been issued one.

They argue he was terminated for the bodycam incident and because Ruff thought he was not at work on Aug. 13, 2009.

“Unfortunately for Ms. Ruff, Mr. Gaines was at work,” his attorneys said. “He clocked in at 7:45 August 13, 2019. He worked throughout the day and he came back to the office at 1:20 p.m.”

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement:

While we have just received this lawsuit and are reviewing it, Ronald Gaines was terminated because he was found to have left his work assignment for several hours without permission or notification. During the internal investigation into his actions, Gaines refused to cooperate with the investigation, ignored requests to be interviewed, and did not return to work. It was determined he had left his work assignment on other occasions as well. The Sheriff’s Office denies that the investigation into Gaines’ conduct and his subsequent termination had anything to do with his age.

Cook County Sheriff’s Press Office

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