Salem city hall (Salem Reporter)

A Marion County man is suing the city of Salem, claiming he was forced to resign for having a disability.

Ronald McHenry, who worked as a communications specialist for the Salem Police Department, said he started losing his hearing and was eventually forced to resign, according to a complaint filed in Marion County Circuit Court on April 3.

McHenry is seeking around $77,000 in lost wages and another $500,000 in damages from “anxiety, depression, grief, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, anger, disappointment, sleeplessness, sadness, and worry,” according to the complaint.

McHenry’s lawyers, Kevin and Tonyia Lafky, couldn’t be reached for comment. Salem spokeswoman Kathy Ursprung said the city doesn’t comment on litigation.

According to the lawsuit, McHenry told his employer in February 2018 that he needed headphones to assist his hearing. His manager refused to give him the headphones and began to give him poor performance reviews, the suit claims.

On April 1, 2019 he resigned from the police’s tactical dispatch team. Nine days later, he asked for a different headset because his wasn’t working properly. The lawsuit didn’t provide details about how McHenry got the headset.

 “Throughout this period, plaintiff was able to perform the essential functions of his job with reasonable accommodation. The ADA accommodation request was supported by plaintiff’s doctors and a clinical audiologist,” reads the lawsuit.

According to the suit he was given an unreasonable plan of assistance.

“Nowhere in the plan did it allow for accommodations that would have allowed plaintiff to successfully perform the essential job function of his position, even though plaintiff was capable of doing so,” the suit reads.

His manager told him he would hold off on obtaining a new headset because “I would hate to purchase a headset then have to buy a different one” due to some potential communication system changes, the lawsuit alleges.

McHenry said in the lawsuit he was placed on administrative leave and then forced to resign under threat of termination on Aug. 2, 2019. He had worked for the city for 26 years, according to court documents.

Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.