“We will fight workplace discrimination wherever we see it. Today we are proud to represent one of the finest and most distinguished law enforcement officers in Cook County.” These words by Disparti Law Group owner and founder Attorney Larry Disparti set the tone for the day.
Retired Chicago Police Sergeant and former Assistant Chief at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Ronald Gaines, stood with other Sheriff’s deputies and his attorneys Cass Casper and Larry Disparti of Disparti Law, and announced a federal age discrimination lawsuit filed in federal court against Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Carmen Ruffin of the Electronic Monitoring Unit and Cook County.
Ronald Gaines was a highly decorated and respected member of the Chicago Police Department when he retired in 2004 after 28 years of service to his community. He immediately joined the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and continued his life of public service holding several positions in Court Services, as a Merit Board Investigator and finally as an Assistant Chief of the Electronic Monitoring Unit.
In August 2019, Gaines was called into the office of his supervisor, Executive Director Carmen Ruffin, and told he was too old to be working at the Sheriff’s Office and then asked why he just didn’t retire. Following a subsequent injury on the job and prior to his return on March 21, 2021, Gaines received a visit from two deputies requesting his credentials stating that he had been terminated immediately.
“I have spent my entire life and career in law enforcement serving the citizens of Cook County and Chicago to the best of my abilities. To be cajoled about my age, told I should just retire, and then fired without even an explanation, was the worst way imaginable for my career to end,” says Gaines.
Ruffin has a history of targeting older, high-ranking staff members and forcing out those seasoned employees while replacing them with younger staff members. The lawsuit lists seven other members of the department who had received similar treatment by E/D Ruffin.
“We have brought this suit to rectify a gross injustice that never should have happened in the first place. Working men and women should never have to face the kind of blatant discrimination that Ronald did. We’re demanding that Sheriff Dart rectify what happened here immediately.”
Full press conference here: