By Diane Krizek
Tribune Reporter

Former Water Utilities employee James Kevin Sherry is suing the City of Lee’s Summit for disability discrimination and retaliation and is demanding a jury trial.

Sherry had been an employee of the Water Department since 2003. On July 6, 2017, he was admitted to the emergency room then transferred to ICU for an E. Coli infection that he allegedly contracted while performing his duties for the City. He remained in the hospital until July 12.

Sherry’s petition states that he understood short-term disability and discretionary leave were available to him through his employment of 14 years. He claims his wife picked up the short-term disability paperwork to start the process. Assistant Director of Operations Wes Owens allegedly advised Sherry on how to submit the request for discretionary leave that he needed in order to continue his recovery from the infection.

On July 14, the City allegedly denied Sherry’s request for discretionary leave and terminated his employment on the same day. With his termination went his eligibility for short-term disability.

Sherry’s petition states his belief that his disability contributed to the unfair and discriminatory treatment of him by the City that failed to accommodate his disability.

By terminating his employment, the City allegedly retaliated against Sherry’s attempt to protect himself with short-term disability and discretionary leave.  The City denied all the terms, conditions, compensation and privileges of his employment and “showed an evil motive and reckless indifference or conscious disregard for his rights.”

Sherry is requesting an award of compensatory and punitive damages for degradation, pain, anguish, anxiety and distress, lost wages, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, as provided by law, for his expenses, attorney’s fees and other equitable relief the Court deems just.

The petition was filed on May 30, 2018 in Independence. The case will be in front of Judge Jack Grate with a Case Management Conference scheduled for September 17, 2018 at 8:45 a.m.