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STREET DEPARTMENT Federal court rejects lawsuit by employee



Published: Mon, January 10, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The employee said he was a victim of age discrimination.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Dennis N. Walker's lawsuit that claimed age discrimination against the Youngstown Street Department has been dismissed.

U.S. District Judge John R. Adams in Akron federal court dismissed the case against the city and International Brotherhood of Chauffeurs, Teamsters, Warehousemen and Helpers Local 377. The suit was filed in December 2003.

Walker, 46, of Lilburn Drive, claimed a breach of contract and breach of duty of fair representation under the Labor Management Relations Act. He also claimed civil rights violations.

Walker was hired by the street department in 1986 and laid off in August 2002, when he was a watchman, John A. McNally IV, then-law director, said last month. He said Walker was not a watchman/laborer as the lawsuit states.

Walker's lawsuit alleged he was a victim of age discrimination and replaced by someone with less seniority.

McNally has said Walker had no one to "bump" out of a job at the street department because of his classification.

Walker and several others who were laid off were not called back. McNally said the city then concluded it no longer needed a watchman for the street department.

Lawsuit claims

The lawsuit, which asked for in excess of $100,000, contended that Walker suffered substantial financial loss, resulting in filing for bankruptcy and liquidating his pension. It also accused the union of lacking a good faith effort to represent him.

In dismissing the case recently, Judge Adams said the federal court has no jurisdiction over Walker's claims because neither the city nor the union is an employer as defined in the Labor Management Relations Act. Also, the judge said Walker's lawsuit contained no suggestion of a custom or policy of the city that resulted in deprivation of federally protected rights.

Judge Adams said the union determined Walker's grievance over his termination was without merit and denied arbitration proceedings. The city's civil service commission also concluded the layoff was proper.

Walker appealed the civil service commission decision to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which dismissed the complaint. The EEOC, however, did issue him a right-to-sue letter in March 2003.

Judge Adams said Walker's lawsuit, filed in December 2003, was untimely, having been filed nine months after the EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter.

Second lawsuit

Walker still has a new federal lawsuit against the city charging racial discrimination. It was filed last month.

The lawsuit alleges that Walker was laid off and not called back because of racial discrimination. Walker is black.

The new lawsuit asks for in excess of $275,000. It is assigned to Judge Adams.

The lawsuit states Walker has suffered economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, emotional distress and deprivation of his right to equal employment opportunities.




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