Pitkin County named in discrimination suit | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County named in discrimination suit

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen CO Colorado

DENVER – The former fleet manager for Pitkin County has named county commissioners and other county officials in a discrimination suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Denver.

The civil lawsuit, filed by Timothy Knight, names the Board of County Commissioners, human-resources administrators Stephen Pinegree and Laura Laubhan, and Public Works director Brian Pettet as defendants.

In it, Knight alleges violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act and the Civil Rights Act in the county’s handling of events that followed a bicycle accident in which Knight was injured. The county ultimately terminated his employment.

The suit seeks a jury trial and a host of damages in amounts that are not specified, including punitive damages, liquidated damages and back pay, as well as reinstatement of Knight’s position and benefits.

County Attorney John Ely said Tuesday he had not seen the suit and could not comment on it. Knight is represented by Greenwood Village attorney Thomas Arckey.

According to the 22-page suit, Knight worked for the county, managing its vehicle fleet, from Aug. 18, 2008, to Nov. 17, 2009.

In June 2009, Knight was in a bicycle accident that resulted in facial injuries which required reconstructive surgery. About a month later, when he returned to work, Knight’s supervisors ordered him to participate in a mandatory Employee Assistance Program assessment, according to the suit.

Knight’s work schedule was subsequently reduced and, in August 2009, he was placed on full-time leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) without a medical recommendation to do so, according to the suit. He was nonetheless asked to continue performing certain tasks associated with fleet management and required to volunteer at the county Senior Services Center, the suit said.

The county ended Knight’s employment in November 2009, though a physician had cleared him to return to work without restrictions in late October 2009, according to the suit.

Knight also claimed he requested an employee handbook prior to his termination and that the request was denied. He eventually received a copy of the handbook – too late to take advantage of a provision that would have allowed him to request a review of his involuntary termination through a three-step process, according to the lawsuit.

On Jan. 1, 2010, after Knight filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, he reapplied for his prior position. He also applied for his former senior center post, which was being advertised as a paid position. He was not hired for either job, and later that month, the county changed Knight’s employment status from “eligible for rehire” to “no longer recommended for rehire,” according to the suit.