ST. MARTINVILLE -- The assistant police chief wants to stay on the job and nary a person best tell him he’s too old.
It’ll be up the state attorney general, or somebody in his office, whether St. Martinville Police Department Assistant Chief Nary Smith keeps his job for another year.
Smith was supposed to retire upon reaching the age of 65 last month, but he asked the City Council last night to keep him on for another year.
He appeared with his attorney, Anthony Thibodeaux, who says that forcing Smith out would be age discrimination.
City attorney Allan Durand said the law on the issue is confusing and that he has asked the attorney general for an opinion to settle the matter.
Durand said the opinion shouldn’t take much longer than a week and the council agreed to postpone action on Smith’s request until they see what the AG has to say about it.
Here’s the problem:
•City law says all employees of the police department must retire at 65.
•Federal law, which supersedes local laws, says you can’t terminate someone based on their age – but policemen and firefighters, who have physically demanding jobs, are an exception under federal law.
•State law says the same thing – but with an exception to the exception that says the appointing authority, in this case the St. Martinville City Council, may extend a policeman a year beyond his 65th birthday if it believes “that the continuance in service of the employee ... would be advantageous to the public service by reason of his expert knowledge and qualifications (RS 11:133).
However, that state law is not the most well-written law on the books, Durand said. And state law elsewhere and often declares itself a mirror of federal law in public employee matters. So it’s unclear in his mind whether or not the city as has the option to extend the veteran policeman.
Smith, meanwhile, is taking the issue to the Civil Service Board on March 28.
He told techetoday.com he is ready to sue if things don’t go his way administratively.