Kelly Holleran Apr. 22, 2013, 7:31am

An African American man claims he was unable to return to work after sustaining a disability due to his age and the color of his skin.

Randy Russell filed a lawsuit April 2 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against the city of Fairview Heights.

The 51-year-old Russell claims he worked as a laborer for the city when he sustained injuries in July 2009 and in August 2009. Because of the incidents, Russell filed for workers’ compensation and was placed on an extended leave of absence, according to the complaint. He was also provided with short term disability, the suit states.

In October 2010, Russell was allowed to return to work on a light duty basis, but Drew Awsome, who is the city administrator for Fairview Heights, allegedly told Russell that there was no light duty work available, the complaint says.

“From the beginning of his employment with the city up through and including October 19, 2010, plaintiff witnessed countless other city employees who were Caucasian and younger coming back to work after a work related injury and given a light duty job,” the suit states. “Plaintiff, then a 51-year-old, African American, was not offered light duty work where as his junior, white, young counterparts.”

Believing he had been discriminated against because of his age and race, Russell filed a charge of discrimination against the city.

After Russell’s charges against the city, its officers fired him in retaliation, according to the complaint.

Because of the city’s refusal to allow him to return to work and his eventual job loss, Russell claims he lost wages, benefits and other compensation.

In his five-count complaint, Russell seeks a judgment and other relief the court deems just.

Jeffrey T. Reel of The Reel Law Firm in Belleville will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-173.


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