Two fired sanitation workers filed another appeal Friday in their lawsuit against Chapel Hill.
Chapel Hill officials said they fired Clyde Clark and Kerry Bigelow in 2010 because of residents’ complaints, job performance issues and insubordination. The men claim they were fired for participating in a labor union and filing complaints with the union about job safety concerns and town hiring practices.
They sued the town and Town Manager Roger Stancil, claiming the decision to fire them violated their constitutional right to free speech and involved racial discrimination. The men also sued for wrongful discharge.
The case would have been heard this month in Orange County Superior Court in Hillsborough, but Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Carl Fox agreed Aug. 14 with the town’s petition to dismiss the lawsuit’s claims.
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Attorney Al McSurely said the case should have gone to a jury, since the facts in the case are being disputed. Filing a second appeal to the state Appeals Court could delay a resolution of the case by another year, he said.
“There’s no question in my mind that the Court of Appeals will send the case back,” McSurely said.
The town also succeeded in getting an earlier appeal dismissed. In May 2012, Superior Court Judge R. Allen Baddour Jr. dismissed the lawsuit’s claims, and the men appealed that decision to the N.C. Court of Appeals. The three-judge panel ordered a full hearing for the case in 2013; the N.C. Supreme Court sided with the Appeals Court later that year.
The men are asking for their jobs back, their work records corrected and to earn the retirement pay, salaries and benefits they would have received since October 2010.