Ex-Charleston garbage man sues for discrimination, injuries, firing

By Justin Anderson | Mar 19, 2009

CHARLESTON – A former laborer for the city of Charleston is suing over injuries he received after falling off the back of a garbage truck. He also claims he was fired for filing a workers' compensation claim and was discriminated against because he is black.

Howard Garland sued the city in Kanawha Circuit Court on Feb. 27.

Garland was a laborer in the city's refuse department and worked on the back of a garbage truck.

He claims he was injured on Jan. 3, 2008, when he was flung from the back of the truck and rolled 20 feet over a hill.

In his complaint, he alleges the driver of the truck, John Bailey, was being careless and ran over a brick landscaping border. This, according to Garland, caused the truck to "top up" on its side and cast him off the back.

Garland claims he and other employees filed complaints against Bailey for his alleged dangerous driving habits but nothing was ever done. Garland says he told his supervisors that Bailey often did not pay attention or talked on his cell phone when he was driving.

He said the fact that the city did nothing created an unsafe work environment.

From the fall from the back of the truck, Garland claims he sustain permanent injuries to his left shoulder and back, which have caused him pain and suffering and lost wages.

He says he was fired while he was off work with his injury and after he'd filed a workers' compensation claim. He also alleges that his supervisors applied departmental policies differently to him because he is black.

Garland is seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as pre- and post-judgment interest on any award.

Garland is represented by Lia DiTrapano Fairless and L. Tom Price. The case has been assigned to Kanawha Circuit Judge Irene Berger.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-349

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