Former employee suing Jeffco Schools

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By Sal Christ

A Conifer man is suing Jeffco Public Schools over allegations that the school district, as well as one of its transportation directors, discriminated against him on the basis of a disability and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act while he was employed by the district last year.
Michael Kiley, 68, was employed by Jeffco Public Schools from March 2016 to December 2016 as a school bus driver in a service area that included Evergreen High School, Conifer High School and Ralston Elementary in Golden. In an amended complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on Nov. 1, Kiley, who suffers from significant hearing loss, contends that the district, as well as Josie Gallagher, transportation director for the district’s west terminal, failed to provide accommodations for his disability, treated him differently than non-disabled employees and fired him without cause.
Among the claims against the district and Gallagher are the allegations that Gallagher “categorically denied” Kiley’s requests for a smaller, rear-engine bus that would’ve created less noise and made it easier for him to hear radio transmissions from dispatch, failure to provide a bus assistant to help with children’s misbehavior, and failure to promote Kiley to a position for which he was qualified.
The lawsuit claims that Kiley suffered severe emotional and physical distress as a result of the allegations, and has continued to suffer economic damages from “the actions of the defendants, including but not limited to lost wages and benefits, and the necessity of incurring substantial attorney’s fees and costs.”
Kiley is seeking exemplary or punitive damages, including costs of the suit and attorney’s fees and costs; interest on the cost of the lawsuit, and “other, further and different relief as this court deems just and proper.”
Through his attorney Shirley Pointer, Kiley has requested a jury trial in the matter.
Kiley’s lawsuit, which was first filed July 22, originated after an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this year. According to court documents, the EEOC issued Kiley a “right to sue letter” in April, which stated that he could file a civil action under the ADA within 90 days of receipt of the letter. His first complaint originally named the school district, Gallagher, and two of the district’s attorneys — Craig Hess and Christopher Esser — as defendants in the lawsuit, and also made claims of age discrimination by the defendants.
However, Kiley’s complaint was amended after attorneys for Jeffco Public Schools filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in October on grounds that the lawsuit was untimely. Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang ultimately denied the district’s motion after Kiley’s complaint was amended to remove Hess and Esser as defendants, as well as remove the claim of age discrimination.
In a statement Nov. 2, Jeffco spokeswoman Diana Wilson said the district expects the court will find in favor of Jeffco Public Schools.
“Mr. Kiley was terminated for cause in Dec. 2016 for his failure to adhere to district performance and safety standards,” she said. “He has filed complaints against the district in different forums and, to date, has lost each one with only the pending lawsuit remaining open. We expect a similar result in this court action.”

Contact reporter Sal Christ at  sal@evergreenco.com or at 303-350-1035. Follow her on Twitter at @decriture, or on Facebook at  www.facebook.com/SalChrist.