A public works laborer allegedly fired after being injured on the job has filed a lawsuit against the city.
Quinton Turner, a laborer at the recycling division at public works, states the city terminated his employment on Oct. 4, 2018. He alleges municipal officials retaliated against him for filing a worker’s compensation claim after being injured on the job.
On Aug. 8, 2018, Turner’s lawsuit states he was performing his routine duty, riding in the back of a garbage truck, when he was suddenly struck by a driver. Turner was “severely injured” as a result of his fall from the impact. He was rushed to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center for treatment, according to the lawsuit filed last Wednesday.
Turner was “diagnosed with a lumbar strain, strain of muscle, fascia and tendon of the lower back, left wrist sprain and an unspecified sprain of the left wrist.” He had to take time off from work to recover, according to the lawsuit. His “extreme discomfort and high levels of pain” forced him to seek treatment at the ImmediCenter in Totowa on Aug. 13, 20, and Sept. 10, 2018. During his leave, he received a phone call from union representative Robert Moody.
Turner alleges Moody threatened him that if he files a worker’s compensation claim he would be immediately terminated. Turner was “distressed by the surprising threat and felt he had no choice” but to utilize his “legally entitled” worker’s compensation coverage to take care of increasing medical bills, according to the lawsuit.
Turner’s lawsuit states he met with public works director William “Billy” Rodriguez, deputy director Manny Ojeda, and assistant director Steve Howe about his status and return to work. He offered to return to work in a less physically demanding capacity, according to the lawsuit; however, municipal officials “failed to engage in an interactive discussion” to provide him accommodations and reinstate him.
The lawsuit states Turner continued to provide update about his condition “every couple of weeks” while offering to return on light duty. He was told there was no modified duty assignment for him every time.
On Oct. 4, 2018, Turner was told he was terminated from his post. He had been working for the city since 2016.
The lawsuit alleges the city violated Turner’s rights under the Family Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act, and New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
Turner is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.