A former Evansville public works employee says that he was fired due to his national origin and disability, according to a lawsuit filed in late January.
Roy Mestas alleges that his supervisor at Evansville’s public works department referred to him and another Hispanic city worker by a racial slur before eventually firing him.
Evansville denies all of Mestas’ claims that the supervisor made racist comments or discriminated against Mestas.
The city further stated that Mestas was not fired for discriminatory reasons.
“Mestas was terminated as an employee at will, which does not require a reason for terminating employment,” attorneys for the city wrote.
Mestas had previously sought to bring his case before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission but the U.S. Department of Justice declined to file suit.
After Mestas had back surgery, he claims his supervisor refused to allow him to use a snowblower to remove snow due to his back pain.
“That’s what I have Mexicans for, to do this work,” the supervisor allegedly said, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also claims that supervisor made frequent racist comments.
Mestas claims he complained about those comments but that his supervisor told him he had a Mexican wife and “he says stuff like this to her all the time.”
The city denies those allegations.
Mestas says he began working for Evansville in September 2012.
After injuring his back in November, Mestas did not return to work until January, when the lawsuit states that the supervisor was frustrated Mestas had not come to the office sooner to perform “light-duty” administrative work.
The supervisor said he had been told to fire Mestas if he “could not perform his job duties,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also claims that after Mestas returned to work in January, he was forced to work without assistance from other city workers and received “harsh and concordancing treatment more frequently and more severely than other employees.”
Mestas was fired in April 2013. Mestas is seeking financial damages due to a loss of employment and emotional distress.
The city denied every claim of discrimination made by Mestas and disputed the date that he began his employment.
Evansville is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit on a number of grounds, including that the city has immunity, that Mestas did not follow proper channels to make his claim and that the statute of limitations has expired.
The initial pretrial conference has been set for May 1 at U.S. District Court in Cheyenne.