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Feds put NLV on notice in disabilities dispute

The Department of Justice is putting North Las Vegas under its thumb to make sure the city complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The city agreed Wednesday to let the Department of Justice supervise the city for three years in order to end litigation with former Parks Department maintenance worker Joseph Dixon.

Dixon alleged the city forced him into retirement by requiring him to get a commercial driver’s license despite Dixon’s being blind in one eye and unable to obtain a commercial license.

A consent decree, which also requires the city to pay Dixon $38,229, was filed in U.S. District Court Thursday and is pending court approval.

The decree requires North Las Vegas to provide ongoing reports every six months for the next three years to ensure that it is following the law. In its first report, the city must outline all unresolved lawsuits, written complaints, charges or grievances.

The reports, which the city must file every six months, must detail any requests for accommodation and how the city responded, as well as notification of any ADA violation disputes.

The city must also provide ADA training.

Dixon had been an employee with the Parks Department for more than 30 years when a new parks services manager took over in 2010. The new manager did a check on employee certifications and told Dixon he had 30 days to get a commercial driver’s license.

Dixon tried to explain that the city had already exempted him from the requirement in 2000, according to the complaint. He provided a letter from his optometrist and two parks supervisors who had been present when Dixon received his exemption.

The efforts were fruitless. Dixon was still told he had 30 days to get the license or face discipline, which could include being fired, the complaint says.

Out of fear of being fired and losing his pension, Dixon retired.

North Las Vegas denies violating the ADA, but agreed the payout and super­vision was in everyone’s best interest, the decree says.

The Department of Justice took the case after the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated Dixon’s claim. The commission found reasonable cause that Dixon had been discriminated against, but mediation was unsuccessful, so the charge was referred to the Justice Department.

This is the financially troubled city’s second labor-related legal headache of the week.

On Thursday, the Local Government Employee Management Relations Board, a government entity that handles disagreements between employers and employees, found the city guilty of improperly firing a police officer.

In that instance, the board ordered the city to reinstate the officer, foot the bill for his seven-year legal odyssey and give him back pay.

The officer’s attorney, Adam Levine, said Thursday he expected the total payout to be more than $500,000.

“The City received the Order in this matter this afternoon. We are currently reviewing the Order and determining our legal options,” North Las Vegas Chief Deputy City Attorney Bethany Rudd Sanchez said in a prepared statement on Thursday regarding that dispute.

Contact Bethany Barnes at bbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes.

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