St. Louis Record

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Kansas City code enforcer shot on the way to work can continue with disability discrimination suit against city


By Sam Knef | Jan 30, 2019

General court 09

KANSAS CITY – The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri recently dismissed several employment-related claims against Kansas City in lawsuit filed by a city code enforcement officer who was wounded in a 2015 shooting while on his way to work.

In a Jan. 17 ruling, U.S. District Judge Roseann A. Ketchmark dismissed Deandre' Johnson's claims of breach of contract and intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, but ordered the city to answer his claims of disability discrimination, failure to accommodate and retaliation claims under the Missouri Human Rights Act by Jan. 31.

Johnson had worked for the city for nine and a half years when the shooting incident took place on Sept. 30, 2015, court filings said. Johnson was shot twice in the right leg, sustaining a broken leg. He was treated in the hospital for 13 days, had three surgeries, underwent multiple therapy sessions and was unable to stand for approximately one month, the ruling said.

When he was cleared to return to light duty work on Jan. 4, 2016, his supervisor told him there wasn't any work available and he was told to go home. He was told that he couldn't return to work because he couldn't drive a vehicle and the city wasn't capable of accommodating his request for light duty, the ruling said.

Johnson claimed that two other code officers with similar injuries had been given light-duty desk work, and he also asked "if he was being treated this way because of a grievance he previously pursued through his union," court filings said. "He was then escorted off the premises."

Court filings said Johnson was transferred to a different facility and then was randomly tested for drugs. He resigned on March 7, 2016, for medical reasons, but the city reported to state agencies that he left for another career that prevented him from receiving unemployment benefits.

In allowing Johnson to proceed on disability discrimination, 

In his ruling, Ketchmark allowed Johnson to proceed on his disability discrimination claim, saying Johnson sufficiently alleged negative treatment after reporting his disability. 

However, Ketchmark said Johnson had not exhausted administrative remedies on his claim of retaliation because he had filed union grievance. "Accordingly, the retaliation claim will not be dismissed at this time," she wrote.

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