The City of Hillsboro filed a memorandum in court this week stating that city employee Craig Jackson “suffers from a medical condition that causes numbness in his legs,” and the condition has “on at least four occasions… endangered the safety of Plaintiff, his co-workers, and/or the general public.”
The memorandum from attorneys Drew Piersall and Scott DeHart on behalf of the city was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in response to Jackson’s request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, which was filed last week in the same court and designed to prohibit the city from requiring Jackson to submit to a medical examination as a condition of continued employment.
Piersall is a labor law expert whose practice focuses on defending clients on claims regarding equal employment opportunity, employment discrimination, retaliation, hostile work environment, and all other employment-related torts, according to information on the website of his firm, Zashin & Rich Co., PLA.
Jackson simultaneously filed a federal lawsuit last week against the city and mayor Drew Hastings, claiming racial discrimination, retaliation from the administration and violations of his constitutional rights.
The city’s memorandum opposing Jackson’s motion for a TRO states that on two occasions, Jackson “nearly struck co-workers while operating a vehicle,” fell out of a work truck, and that prior to the fourth incident, Jackson’s supervisor “informed him that in the event there was another incident related to his leg numbness, he would be sent home from work and appropriate next steps would be taken.”
“This is exactly what happened,” the city’s memorandum states.
The response states that the city “has every right to refer plaintiff to an independent medical examination (IME) under three different authorities,” citing the “direct threat” provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Ohio law and the city’s handbook.
The response adds that mayor Drew Hastings “played no role in the initial decision to refer plaintiff to an IME,” and he “was not aware of it until after the fact.”
The city’s response states that Jackson has not been disciplined despite not attending appointments for medical exams, and he has “been on paid administrative leave without performing any work for Hillsboro for over one month.”
In regard to scheduling exams for Jackson, the city’s response states, “As stated above, Mayor Hastings had no involvement in this process whatsoever, and was not informed that Plaintiff had been initially scheduled for an IME until after the fact.”
The city claims that Jackson has provided inconsistent comments about his medical status, allegedly telling Eric Daniels, the city’s systems administrator, that “he was functioning at ‘65% capacity,’ or words to that effect,” and telling a newspaper on Sept. 11 that he “has had medical issues and hasn’t been at 100 percent.”
But Jackson’s counsel later provided the city with two medical releases, according to the city’s memorandum, the first indicating “full duty, no restrictions,” and the second stating that “Craig may return to work on 9/19/2017 with no restrictions.”
Jackson’s lawsuit against the city states that he was the victim of racist and discriminatory comments and actions by members of the public and city employees, specifically a former water/sewer and streets manager, after Hastings made social media posts that some said were racist, and that the city acted in retaliation against him for “opposing what he reasonably and in good faith believed to be race discrimination.”
The lawsuit alleges the city retaliated against Jackson by exploiting his disabilities after he and other members of the African-American community called on Hastings to resign in December 2015.
The suit claims that the alleged retaliation was also in response to a charge of discrimination Jackson filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in February 2016. In Jackson’s lawsuit filed last week, the claim was made that the EEOC filing alleges that Jackson was retaliated against “for complaining to the City about inappropriate and discriminatory comments by Mr. Lewis,” with no further explanation.
City auditor Gary Lewis did not return a message left for him by The Times-Gazette last Friday.
But on Wednesday, Lewis provided The Times-Gazette with a copy of email correspondence he had with Jackson’s attorney, Marc Mezibov, dated Sept. 26, in which Mezibov apologizes for using Lewis’ name.
In his email to Mezibov, Lewis told the attorney that Jackson “has always been a friend,” describing their shared interests, and concluding, “I think you can understand how something like this can cast an unwarranted negative opinion on a public figure. It has also caused a modicum of grief and sadness personally.”
Mezibov responded, “In reviewing the complaint, it is apparent that the reference to your name in that document was the result of clerical error and inadvertence on the part of this office. To be clear Mr. Jackson did not ask that you be included in any way in his complaint against the City or the Mayor. The reference was intended to be to Drew Hastings. We will immediately make the correction. I sincerely apologize for this mistake and any unwarranted stress it may have caused you. I am embarrassed that this error occurred. Thank you for your understanding and, I hope, your forgiveness.”
The city’s memorandum opposing Jackson’s request for a TRO concludes, “Temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions are extraordinary remedies, not to be granted except in the clearest of cases. Plaintiff has failed to carry his burden that such a far-reaching remedy is warranted here. Plaintiff’s motion should be denied in its entirety.”