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Trial set for 3 former Palace Transit workers suing city for discrimination

Two trial dates have been set for lawsuits against the city of Mitchell.

Three former Palace Transit employees each filed a lawsuit last year accusing the city of age and disability discrimination.

A trial for all three plaintiffs on those issues is scheduled for June in Sioux Falls, according to federal court documents.

Curtis Dumas, one of the former employees, also filed a lawsuit including a Federal Medical Leave Act claim. That part of his case will be tried separately and is scheduled for trial in July, also in Sioux Falls.

James Nichols, 54, John Robertson, 47, and Dumas, 56, were all bus drivers for Palace Transit, a city-owned transportation company.

Nichols was fired Feb. 16, 2009, after he failed a physical. The complaint states he was fired because of "his medical history."

Robertson was fired May 19, 2009, after the city deemed him unfit to drive a bus. The complaint states "he 'did not meet standards' because he was 'on insulin.' " Robertson was also fired, the complaint says, for his "medical history."

Dumas was fired June 1, 2010, after he underwent two heart surgeries and the city didn't allow him to come back to work.

The complaint states the city fired Dumas because his FMLA ran out.

The complaint also says although Dumas had a good safety record as a bus driver, he "would not be able to obtain medical clearance under the federal DOT medical test."

Attorneys for each former employee claim Roberts, Nichols and Dumas were all wrongly subjected to federal Department of Transportation tests because they drove only on in-town roads, not interstate roads.

Attorneys are also claiming the city failed to accommodate each man by not offering to provide a different or altered position.

Each man is asking for several items of relief, including back pay, damages for lost benefits, compensatory damages, punitive damages and reasonable attorney's fees and costs.