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Mississippi Sheriff Faces Discrimination Lawsuit

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MADISON, Miss. --

A Madison County sheriff's deputy said he was fired for catching a sheriff's office official's alleged discrimination against a soldier.

Former Deputy Josh Hobbs said he has a recording that proves Deputy Sheriff Eddie Belvedresi's discriminating act against a National guardsman. Hobbs said he tried to refer Rodney Thompson for a job on the force, but Belvedresi told Hobbs he was not interested in Thompson because the man is in the National Guard.

"I mean, it really puts that shift in a bind, whichever he's on, you know. And like I told you, you know, I don't want him to know that because I appreciate what he does," Belvedresi said on the recording.

Thompson has been in the military for 22 years and in law enforcement for 10 years. According to the recording, the deputy sheriff said he knows that that kind of discrimination is illegal.

"I've got enough sense to realize that if (Thompson) found that out and brought a suit against us, he'd probably win for not hiring him, you know," Belvedresi said on the recording.

Thompson and Hobbs' lawyer, Nick Norris, said he filed a lawsuit Wednesday, asking for lost wages, benefits and a job with the department.

"Under the law, employers have an obligation to make those scheduling conflicts and work those things out and not just throw up their hands and say that can cause a problem. They are required to work with those National guardsmen and leave those positions open," Norris said.

In a statement, Madison County Sheriff Toby Trowbridge said, "It is in the hands of the attorney now that the lawsuit has been filed. I can assure you we stand behind the men and women of the Armed Forces."

Norris said Thompson applied for the job in 2009.

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