Former Evansville Employee Sues Town For Discrimination
A former Evansville employee has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the town and its public works supervisor for the treatment he received four years ago, according to federal court records and his attorney.
"Mr. (Roy) Mestas has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Evansville with claims for race discrimination and discrimination based on his disability," Megan Hayes said.
"He's seeking what we would call economic damages in court," Hayes said. "He's also hoping, I think, that the town will be required to undergo some sort of training on race and disability discrimination, and also to ensure that the town has procedures in place for people, employees to make complaints to the town when they feel they're being discriminated against on the basis of their race."
Phil Willoughby, attorney for the Town of Evansville, did not return a call seeking comment.
Mestas went to work for Evansville on Sept. 12, 2012.
He satisfactorily performed his job and received no disciplinary actions or coaching for poor performance.
However, he was not treated well, according to the lawsuit. "During his employment with defendant Evansville, Mr. Mestas was subjected to national origin-based harassment and intimidation as well as discrimination on the basis of a disability, all of which affected a term, condition or privilege of his employment."
Mestas injured his back at work on Nov. 26, 2012. He returned to work on Jan. 14, 2013, with a note from his physician state he could perform his regular duties with no restrictions.
His supervisor, Public Works Department Supervisor Dale Brown, then subjected Mestas to harsh and condescending treatment more frequently and more severely than other employees, expected him to complete tasks without the assistance of co-workers, and told co-workers not to help him. Brown reprimanded co-workers who would help Mestas, according to the lawsuit.
Brown referred to Mestas and others with Hispanic backgrounds as "'stupid beaners,'" and told jokes about minorities. Mestas twice complained to Brown about the comments, and Brown responded that his wife is a "'Mexican'" and he says things like that to her all the time.
Meanwhile, the Town of Evansville did not have a specific procedure for employees to make complaints of harassment, other than sexual harassment.
In April 2013, Mestas asked Brown to use a snow blower because he was having back pain. Brown denied the request, saying, "'that's what I have Mexicans for, to do this work.'"
On April 17, 2013, Brown told Mestas things were not "'working out,'" and he terminated him. Brown did not say the action was for poor or unsatisfactory job performance, according to the lawsuit.
Mestas is seeking seeking to recover damages for lost earnings, benefits, and job opportunities because of the violations by the Town of Evansville and Brown for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He also is seeking punitive damages from the defendants.
He likewise is seeking damages for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 because of the discrimination he endured for his injury.