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Former city forester files suit

Plaintiff claims lack of support and being ostracized by city staff over medical issues

A former city forester has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against the city of Canby.

The suit seeking $500,000 for emotional distress and $150,000 for economic loss was filed in federal court Oct. 3 on behalf of Soloman Jacobsen, city forester from March 2008 until March 2014.

He is represented by Scott N. Hunt and Kirsten Rush, of Busse & Hunt, Portland.

Jacobsen underwent heart surgery Aug. 15, 2013, and received an implanted defibrillator and pacemaker.

The suit says that when he returned to modified work Sept. 11, 2013, he found a hostile workplace, including harassment for not receiving a full return to work release.

The suit also says Jacobsen was ostracized and did not receive the input and support he needed to do his job.

He was released for full duty a month later but could not obtain his commercial driver’s license because of his defibrillator. The suit says Jacobsen sought reasonable accommodations for his condition, including demonstrating that the license was not required to perform the essential duties of his job.

In mid-February, the city said it could not accommodate him as city forester and on March 15, placed him on unpaid leave, which led to his constructive discharge.

The city notified Jacobsen his unpaid leave expired May 5 but later extended it to June 30.

The lawsuit seeks $500,000 for emotional distress and $150,000 for economic loss.

The lawsuit accuses the city of discrimination by not restoring Jacobsen to his original position or an equivalent job, and for retaliating by refusing to accommodate his disability when he asserted his rights.

The suit says the city also discriminated by failing to accommodate Jacobsen’s disability or find a reasonable accommodation.

And, rather than accommodate his disability, the city placed him on unpaid leave, which eventually led to his constructive discharge.

Amanda Zeiber, city human resources director, said the city was served with a copy of the complaint Friday and was working to draft a timely response to the allegations.

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