A 19-year veteran of the city's legal department has contended in a federal lawsuit that he was fired this spring as part of an "age-based jihad" orchestrated by the city solicitor in the name of Baltimore's youthful new mayor.
Stanley C. Rogosin, 54, alleges that he was forced out of the law department soon after City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. took office and made critical comments about career government employees.
"Zollicoffer's employment decisions were motivated by his youth-obsessed drive to model the city law department in his own image, and in the image of his youthful boss, Mayor Martin O'Malley," Rogosin alleges in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Rogosin is seeking reinstatement to his job as an assistant city solicitor along with back pay and unspecified damages.
The mayor and City Council are named as defendants in the suit. Zollifcoffer said in an interview yesterday that the city would "vigorously defend" itself against the allegations raised in the complaint.
"Neither the mayor nor myself made any of our employment decisions based on discriminatory practices," Zollicoffer said.
Zollicoffer, 38, was among the first city appointees that O'Malley, 37, named after his election last year.
According to Rogosin's lawsuit, Zollicoffer conducted an "age line-up" in the law department soon after he assumed the post, asking for a show of hands from people who had worked for city government for 10 or 20 years.
"Zollicoffer stated that he could not understand why people made a career of government work and expressed his view that government employment should only be used to obtain early work experience," Rogosin said in the suit, filed Nov. 22.
The lawsuit alleges that Zollicoffer eliminated attorneys in the department who were over age 50 and replaced them with younger, less-experienced lawyers. The suit charged that Zollicoffer "also targeted non-attorneys in his age-based jihad," discharging a number of other senior employees.
Rogosin, who started working in the solicitor's office in 1981 after nine years as a public defender in the city court system, was discharged on April 20.
Zollicoffer said he could not comment on why Rogosin was discharged from the department because it was a personnel issue. He said he is "very happy" with the current law department, where he said employees consider government service a "privilege, not a life appointment."