January 18, 2006.
Kentucky.com - Lexington,KY,USA.
Two blind men, claiming that they were subjected to humiliation and unfair treatment in their former jobs at LexTran because of their disability, testified in Fayette Circuit Court yesterday about their working conditions at the local bus service.
David Trudell, 53, and Warren McClendon, 41, who answered phones at the bus system's transit center on Vine Street and provided tokens, passes, bus schedules and route information to bus riders from September 1998 to March 2002 and May 2001, respectively, sued the Transit Authority of Lexington, alleging discrimination, in September 2002.
They are suing for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and damages for "embarrassment and humiliation and emotional distress."
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. today and is expected to continue through Thursday.
Trudell became blind because of diabetes and suffered from a multitude of physical ailments while working at LexTran, including renal disease that required him to undergo kidney dialysis several times a week, and sleep apnea. McClendon, whose blindness is caused by retinitis pigmentosa, said he had bouts of clinical depression before and after he went to work at LexTran.
Both claimed they had problems from the beginning of their employment with the bus system.
They testified that they were initially told their jobs would be full-time, but learned after taking the jobs that the positions were part-time. They said they were denied keys to cash drawers they handled as part of their jobs and keys to the transit center, while other employees in similar positions had keys. They also said that other LexTran employees "baby-sat" them because of a rule that blind people were not to work alone.
They also testified they were told that part-time employees were not given job performance evaluations or raises. They said they did not receive any raises for almost two years.
The men claimed one co-worker in particular, Crystal Newman Hilton, did not treat them in a civilized manner.
"She would talk down to me and she would yell at me," Trudell said.
"In fact Crystal talked to everybody like a dog, didn't she?" defense attorney Barbara Kriz asked Trudell later.
McClendon, who is vice president of the local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, said that Hilton referred to him as a "f------ blind man" on two occasions and that he had to call 911 after a "shouting match" with her that left him feeling as if he were having a heart attack.
Hilton is on LexTran's witness list and could be called to testify.
Trudell, who missed several months of work because of his medical problems, which included a stroke he suffered in October 2001, said he found out from his doctor that LexTran "could no longer accommodate" him. McClendon said he was "maneuvered" into resigning from LexTran.
Source URL: http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/local/13650467.htm.
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