former building official for the City of Riverside has filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging his disability played a role in his arbitrary discharge.
William Fuller, 48, of Osborn, was first employed with Riverside as a building inspector in July of 2012, states the suit. Fuller was later promoted to building official, a position that required Fuller to conduct onsite inspections, identify zoning violations and oversee new construction within the city limits.
According to the lawsuit filed by the McClelland Law Firm, Fuller, who was suffering from depression, requested to take leave on an intermittent basis under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
After the city granted the intermittent leave, a human resource agent for the city allegedly sent an email to all city employees informing them in advance that Fuller would be taking FMLA leave and asked if employees would transfer any of their additional leave hours to Fuller.
Employees generously donated 500 hours of leave time to Fuller, allowing him to receive compensation for all leave hours, states court documents.
But in May of 2018, it appears the goodwill Fuller was receiving ended abruptly when Michael Duffy, director of community development, informed Fuller that the donated leave time “would no longer be available to him,” the case states.
Duffy also allegedly warned Fuller that he was taking “too many absences” and was unduly disrupting the city’s operation because inspections were not getting done. On July 19, 2018, Fuller was given the option to either resign or be terminated, the case says. That’s when Fuller gave his resignation.
As the lawsuit tells it, Fuller was “constructively discharged” and his “disability played a role in and had a determinate influence on” city officials’ decision “to terminate” his employment.
The lawsuit contends the city violated the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA), which protects people from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age and disability. Disability includes both physical and mental conditions that significantly affect major life functioning.
The lawsuit claims the city was made aware that Fuller had a disability and that he was seeking reasonable accommodations for it.
Fuller first sought recourse in August of 2018 when he filed a complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, contending he faced disability, age and retaliation discrimination. The commission later issued Fuller a notice of right to sue, prompting him to seek legal remedy against the city.
As the lawsuit tells it, the city acted unlawfully when it allegedly retaliated against Fuller for “exercising his statutorily protected rights by adversely altering the terms, conditions and privileges of his employment” and informing him he would be terminated if he didn’t submit his resignation.
Fuller is seeking compensation for loss of income and other damages.