Imagine someone seemingly came out nowhere and accused you of a crime, and that your boss fired you because of the accusation. You spend money hiring a lawyer and you go to trial, where you are acquitted and then set free. You'd like to think you could get your job back, right? After all, you were proven innocent in court.
But your old boss won't rehire you, and not only that, he refuses to tell you why. What would you do? Roll over, or fight like hell to get the job that you love back?
Welcome to the world of Michael Serges, a former deputy for Harris County Constable Precinct 4.
Two years ago, four women claimed that Serges had sexually assaulted them while he was working as a county juvenile detention center guard earlier in his career. He went to trial twice, and both times he was acquitted. But when he tried to get his job back, the constable's office rejected him, with no explanation why.
Serges is fighting for his livelihood and reputation, which for him, begins with getting his old job back. And to do so, he is suing Harris County.
Unlike Houston police officers or Harris County Sheriff's deputies, constable employees do not have a civil service board, which has authority over firing decisions. Constables rule their own roost and have the final say.
Serges isn't sure why the constable won't rehire him. At first, he thought it was because of the nature of the allegations. But now, as his lawsuit is moving forward, he believes it is because he is black.
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It is no secret that several white deputies at Precinct 4 have been rehired after being cleared of criminal charges. But in the past several weeks, since this week's feature was completed, Serges says deputies are stepping forward to help him prove his case. Serges claims that several African-American officers who were fired for pending criminal charges and then exonerated have called him, complaining that they too were not rehired. Plus, says Serges, a couple of white deputies have contacted Serges' attorney, apparently claiming that they have knowledge that racism is alive in Precinct 4.
"If an African-American is accused of a crime," says Serges, "they must be guilty and don't deserve a second chance. And with a white guy, well, it must have been an accident, a mistake. It looks like there's a pattern of giving white officers the benefit of the doubt."
While Serges waits for his lawsuit to shake out, he works the graveyard shift at CVS, the only job he can get. Read this week's feature, "On Hold," about Serges' fight to reclaim his life and his battle against the constable's office.
Given his situation, what would you do?