The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Cops, courts and fires

May 15, 2014

Brown lawsuit against city continues

Mayor Smith removed from case

ANDERSON — A lawsuit filed by a fired city employee against the city of Anderson will be allowed to continue as a result of a ruling by the U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana.

Jack Brown was terminated from his job with the City of Anderson Transit System (CATS) as a street supervisor in 2012 allegedly because he was unable to obtain a commercial driver’s license due to a disability.

In his federal lawsuit, Brown alleged violations of the American Disabilities Act and that his termination was political in nature. He initially sued the city and Mayor Kevin Smith. The District Court removed Smith from the lawsuit.

“The Court finds that the street supervisor position is one such position that falls somewhere between the strictly menial government worker and the policy making or confidential assistant position, thus it cannot be said that Mr. Brown’s termination was an obvious violation of a constitutional right such that Mayor Smith should not personally be protected by qualified immunity,” the decision read.

Smith said in a press release that the city was pleased with the court’s ruling.

At the time of his termination CATS General Manager Stephon Blackwell said Brown was being demoted to bus driver, but because he was unable to obtain a CDL he was being terminated.

Brown was hired by CATS in 1984 and was granted a waiver from the CDL requirement during Kevin Smith’s first term. When Kris Ockomon took office as mayor in 2008, Brown was promoted to the street supervisor’s position.

The U.S. District Court in Indianapolis ruled Tuesday that Brown’s lawsuit for wrongful termination for violations of the American Disabilities Act could continue along with his claim that his termination was a violation of his First Amendment rights to free speech.

The city of Anderson maintained that Brown needed a CDL license to drive the Nifty Lift bus and charters for CATS as a street supervisor.

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