Former employee continues lawsuit against University

By Megan Ferguson, Chattanooga, TN–UTC officials has moved to dismiss all claims in a lawsuit filed by a former University employee except for those under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to legal documents.

Former activities coordinator Jonathan Etchison filed a complaint against the University in June 2012, alleging that leaders discriminated against his disability and his age.

The lawsuit claims UTC changed the terms and conditions and eventually terminated his employment when the University learned Etchison had a disability.

Etchison had surgery on one of his feet and discovered he had rheumatoid arthritis, according to the lawsuit.
With this condition, Etchison qualifies as disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

However, the lawsuit states Etchison was still able to perform his duties for UTC.

In the lawsuit, Etchison alleges he informed his supervisor Dr. Annie Jones, as well as the director of the program, of his rheumatoid arthritis.

According to the lawsuit, Jones demanded access to his confidential medical records, so she could monitor his ability to perform his duties, according to the filed complaint.

Soon after Etchison informed Jones, she began harassing him on a daily basis, making comments to and about Etchision, such as “Oh my Lord, I’ve hired a disabled person,” according to the suit.

Etchison approached Human Resources Director Dan Webb and Jones’ supervisor, Dr. Jocelyn Sanders, to talk about his rheumatoid arthritis and Jones, but neither took any action to address Etchison’s complaint, according to documents.

The lawsuit states UTC leaders hired a male 22 years younger than Etchison for the coordinator position. Then, on Sept. 28, 2010, they terminated Etchison.

Etchison is suing UTC for violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Age Discrimination Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

UTC’s policy prohibits comment on cases in litigation, Associate Vice Chancellor for Communication and Marketing Chuck Cantrell said. Therefore, he, Webb, and Jones were unable to comment.

Etchison could not be reached for comment.

The University is now moving to dismiss all claims other than those for sex discrimination and retaliation brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by virtue of the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.

According to the motion to dismiss, the University claims the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over all of those claims because the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution bars them.
Etchison concedes the dismissal is proper on Age Discrimination in Employment Act claims, Americans with Disabilities Act claims, and concedes all common-law tort claims should be dismissed, according to the response to motion to dismiss.

The Echo has a previous story on this lawsuit here.

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