Former Northampton County sheriff Randall Miller is suing to get his job back, with back pay.
Miller was terminated on Jan. 7, the day after John Brown was sworn in as the new county executive.
Miller's lawsuit, which was filed late Thursday afternoon by Atty. Jason Schiffer, challenges the legitimacy of a 1998 county ordinance that made the sheriff an "at will" employee, meaning he can be terminated without reason.
The suit argues that 1998 charter provision is not legal, because it contradicts the county's home rule charter, which can only be changed by Northampton County voters.
The county's 1978 home rule charter stipulated that the sheriff is a "career service employee" and cannot be terminated without cause.
The county council essentially changed that provision with its 1998 vote, but failed to have a home rule charter change approved by voters as required by state law, according to the suit.
"A Home Rule Charter may only be amended by voter referendum," states the lawsuit.
The suit, which seeks a declarative judgment and money damages, has been filed against Northampton County, Northampton County Council and Brown.
Miller resides in Bethlehem. He had been county sheriff since December 2009.
Brown replaced MIller with Chief Deputy Sheriff Christopher Ziegler, who will serve as acting sheriff until he names a replacement.