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Veteran claims military background cost him job as township manager

John J. Murphy, 42, claims the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners in Pennsylvania discriminated against him on the basis of his commitment to the Air Force Reserve.

John Murphy thought his military background would be an asset when applying to be the manager of a Pennsylvania township, but the Air Force Reserve veteran reportedly claims in a new lawsuit that it instead cost him the job.

Murphy, 42, applied to become manager of Radnor Township in 2009 when the position was vacated by a man who allegedly paid himself and other township employees unapproved bonuses. Murphy and his attorneys contend that the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners discriminated against him because they were worried his involvement as a major in the Air Force Reserve would require him to be out of town too often, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“Someone who decides to put their life on the line for their country should not be denied the right to fair treatment,” Murphy’s attorney, David Tomaszewski, told the newspaper.

An attorney for the township did not return requests for comment by the Inquirer. Attorney Joseph Santarone said in filings that Murphy’s military record did not influence the commissioners’ decision, adding that current manager Robert Zienkowski was selected because he was more qualified.

Murphy, who has served as city manager for six years in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., spent five months in 2008 in Africa, where he oversaw search and rescue operations in 14 countries. According to his claim, Murphy was one of eight finalists selected for an interview. He is now working as the city manager of Hobbs, N.M., but is seeking back pay and damages in regards to the alleged violation of the federal Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which bans employers from using an applicant's military commitments against them regarding hiring decisions, the Inquirer reports.

When Murphy sat down for an interview for the post in July 2009, Radnor’s commissioners were seemingly more interested in the time he spent with the Air Force Reserve, with one reportedly asking if the township could “afford” to have its manager gone for 35 days each year.

Murphy was informed a few days later that the commissioners had “serious reservations” about his ongoing military commitment. A trial date has been set in the case for Feb. 24, Tomaszewski told FoxNews.com.

FoxNews.com's Joshua Rhett Miller contributed to this report.