Friday, January 22, 2016

Discrimination lawsuit filed against city of Colorado Springs

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2016 at 12:55 PM

Corey Farkas is one city official named in a discrimination lawsuit. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Corey Farkas is one city official named in a discrimination lawsuit.
A former streets employee, Amaro Montemayor, has filed suit in federal court against the city, alleging discrimination and retaliation against him because he's Hispanic.

Montemayor notes in his lawsuit he had good job reviews from 2000 when he was hired until 2012. In May 2011, was promoted to the position of skilled maintenance supervisor.

But after he complained about gender discrimination against a female employee, his record at the city deteriorated.

According to the lawsuit:
No Hispanic occupies a position within the Street Division at the level of supervisor or manager. White male employees at the level of supervisor and manager receive different and better treatment than females and Hispanic employees. 

Plaintiff was forced out of employment and Defendants’ actions were part of a pattern and practice that denied to Hispanic workers and persons of color advancement and retention in high ranking management positions, and dissuaded high ranking Hispanic workers at middle management
positions to leave employment. 
In the lawsuit, Montemayor names the city, former Public Works Director David Lethbridge  (a controversial figure from the time former Mayor Steve Bach hired him), and Streets Manager Corey Farkas.

Here's how Lethbridge departed the city in September 2014, as reported in a story at that time.
The most recent appointee to arrange a departure is Dave Lethbridge, interim public works director. But he's still on the payroll at $152,087 a year despite the hiring of Travis Easton, former mayor of Monument, who began work as the new public works director on Monday.

In a response to the Indy's CORA request, the city labeled Lethbridge an "Active, Regular Employee," and said he'll be paid through Dec. 31.

In a "transition agreement" obtained under CORA, Chief of Staff Steve Cox tells Lethbridge he will work regular hours through Aug. 31. From Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, Cox writes, "you will be permitted to primarily telecommute," remain eligible for fringe benefit programs, and even be allowed to "pursue other employment opportunities" if it complies with the city's conflict-of-interest policy and if that second job can be done without interfering with his city duties.
 The Montemayor lawsuit seeks:
(1) Back pay and benefits.
(2) Damages in front pay and loss of benefits that would have been earned, including retirement benefits.
(3) Compensatory damages for injuries suffered, including damages for emotional upset, distress, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, and medical and counseling expenses.
(4) Removal from Plaintiff’s personnel file negative information and prohibit Defendants from giving out negative information about the Plaintiff.
(5) Punitive damages against Defendant Lethbridge and Defendant Farkas.
(6) Equitable relief that is proper.
(7) Attorney’s fees and costs as provided by statute, including Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §2000 e-5, and 42 U.S.C. §1988.
(8) Other relief that is appropriate and necessary .222. Plaintiff requests a trial by jury on all issues 
Here's the lawsuit:
City Council is to decide Monday whether the city will defend Lethbridge and Farkas in the case. If so, the city will file an answer to the lawsuit. The city traditionally doesn't comment on pending litigation.

It's worth noting that Montemayor's attorney is William Finger of Evergreen, who represented Terri Velasquez, the city's former finance director, who sued for ill treatment and won a $250,000 settlement.

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