(CN) - Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and "top ranking officials" who work for him "admitted in sworn testimony that they retaliate against prosecutors who join the union," the Association of Deputy District Attorneys claims in L.A. Federal Court. The association and an unnamed district attorney accuse defendants of "the kind of 19th century thuggery commonly employed against union organizers." They say that "On at least one occasion, DA investigators have attempted to manufacture evidence that a heterosexual union board member engaged in homosexual conduct, a tactic they have employed against targets in other cases."
The group claims Cooley operates on "an anti-union policy. ... They have called the president of the employees union representing deputy district attorneys a 'crook.' Worse, they have declared that prosecutors who join the union are 'ratifying dishonesty' and are 'contaminated,' thereby justifying 'disastrous' career consequences for any such deputy."
In a telephone interview, Matthew Monforton, attorney for the plaintiffs, said, "To call all of those prosecutors 'contaminated,' that kind of talk is shocking."
The 43-page complaint continues: "Defendants' discriminatory acts include transferring senior union members to juvenile courts, assignments reserved for young, inexperienced prosecutors. For more experiences prosecutors, such transfers amount to a career death sentence. These assignments often involve substantial commutes from prosecutors' residences and are referred to by defendants as 'freeway therapy.' Defendants are also retaliating against union-represented prosecutors by threatening to reduce their health care benefits beginning in January 2010."
It adds: "Defendants' retaliation against the union's president has been especially severe, involving numerous punitive transfers, an illegal suspension without pay and inclusion of false allegations in his most recent performance evaluation."
The unnamed deputy D.A. and the Association seek declaratory judgment, an injunction and punitive damages for constitutional violations.
The deputy DAs went way out of town to find counsel: Matthew Monforton, of Bozeman, Mont.
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