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City settles federal discrimination, wrongful termination claim

The city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, recently settled a federal discrimination lawsuit filed by an employee of the city's public safety department. The employee claimed that because of his obsessive-compulsive disorder he was treated differently than other employees and was wrongfully terminated because of his disorder.

The city agreed to grant him a duty disability retirement for which he will collect a pension in the amount of a little over $4,000 per month. The city's attorney also said it would pay him for vacation and sick time he accrued and settled a worker's compensation claim he had previously filed with the city. The city will also pay his attorney fees and remove any records of disciplinary actions documented in his personnel file related to the discrimination complaint.

The plaintiff began working for the city in 1999 and claimed racial discrimination in his lawsuit. He claimed he had been held to a different standard than another employee of a different race who was bipolar. A grievance was filed on his behalf by the Kalamazoo Public Safety Officers' Association and the arbitrator sided with the union and awarded the plaintiff his job back.

As the old saying goes you can't fight city hall, but in cases involving claims of federal employment discrimination you do have rights that deserve to be protected, as this case demonstrates. No employer should violate federal employment laws and when the government itself is charged with violating these laws an employee may not know where to turn for help.

If you are a federal employee and feel you may have been discriminated against, consulting an attorney experienced in representing federal employees can help you understand your rights and the steps you can take to protect those rights.

Source: Michigan Live, "City settles federal discrimination suit filed by Kalamazoo Public Safety detective," Rex Hall Jr., Mar. 21, 2012

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