Steven Michael was hired in April 2007 as an Environmental Inspector III for the city of Dallas Water Utilities Department, at which point he told his immediate supervisor, Yilam Zerihun, that he had a disability that didn't allow him to lift anything heavier than 20 pounds. Michael, who employment was contingent upon a six-month probationary period, also told Zerihun that he'd need to take time off for doctor's visits. The supervisor said sure, but it'd be a real help if Michael -- hired at the highest salary in the department -- scheduled those appointments on Fridays, his day off.
But his employment with the city didn't last long. Morgan Dadgostar, senior program manager for the water department in the pretreatment program, fired him. There was a lawsuit. Michael claimed he was let go for two reasons: He's disabled, and he's white. The city asked for a summary judgment. The judge said, OK. Michael took his case to the 5th District Court of Appeals. The appeals court handed down its decision yesterday. Said the trial court did the right thing in granting summary judgment. Said it didn't sound like Michael was fired because he was white or disabled. From the recap:
Within three weeks after Michael was hired, one of his co-workers, Shavonn Stearns reported to Zerihun that Michael had made violent threats that he "may need to bring his 45" to work to deal with "the pickiness of our supervisor" and "blowing up this place." Zerihun reported the complaint to her supervisor, Maurice Akech, and Akech notified Dadgostar. Dadgostar met with Stearns to discuss her report and asked her to put it into writing. Stearns had been employed by the City for approximately seven years and had never made a complaint like this. Michael acknowledged that he had a license to manufacture and sell guns, and that this was known by his co-workers.
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Michael has denied saying that, characterizing those remarks as "bizarre and extreme." He also denies wanting back his red Swingline stapler.