New Castle News

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July 24, 2013

Mechanic files suit against transit authority

NEW CASTLE — A New Castle Area Transit Authority mechanic claims the agency has failed to provide a smoke-free environment.

A lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of Dale W. Doutt, 62, of West Middlesex states he suffers from high blood pressure, hypertension and sinus illness that “are  worsened by exposure to cigarette smoking for any period of time.”

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.

Employed by the authority for about 10 years, Doutt has complained to management, including general manager Leonard Lastoria, since Aug. 29, 2008, that his co-workers and foreman are smoking cigarettes during work hours and in a variety of locations at the Mahoning Avenue plant, leaving him with no smoke-free area to work, according to the suit.

The authority, through its foreman and co-workers, retailiated against him by “yelling” at him, issuing written warnings criticizing his work performance and treating him as an outcast since he filed the complaint with management and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the suit notes.

The retaliation has adversely affected his health and ability to perform his duties at work, the suit says.

Doutt claims the authority discriminated against him because he suffers from a disability within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act and that the authority has refused to enforce its no-smoking policy.

He is seeking lost wages/benefits, compensation for personal harm, injury and compensatory damages for humiliation, embarrassment and loss of self esteem, punitive damages and legal costs.

Lastoria declined comment on the lawsuit.

Attorney Louis Perrotta, the authority’s solicitor, said, “There is no merit to the complaint and the transit authority will vigorously defend this matter.”

He said both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission dismissed the complaint. The EEOC issued a right to sue letter.

Perrotta said the authority’s policy permits smoking only on the outside of the plant.

He said the complaint has been forwarded to the authority’s insurance consortium, “and they’ll advise us.”

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)

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