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Driver claims district violated employment laws related to on-the-job injury

A longtime bus driver for the Beaverton School District is suing over what he says were unlawful employment practices by the district related to an on-the-job injury.

FILE PHOTO - A Beaverton school bus driver says the Beaverton School District violated Oregon employment laws by failing to accomodate a disability and retaliating against him for filing a workers' compensation claim.A lawsuit filed July 5 in Washington County Circuit Court by Gary Bride seeks $300,000, alleging the district failed to accommodate a disability related to an injury he sustained years prior while working for the district.

Bride worked for the district as a school bus driver since 2000, according to his complaint. In 2003, he sustained unspecified work-related injuries and filed a claim for workers' compensation. He later returned to work using a special seat to accommodate the injury. In 2014, Bride says the seat was removed from the bus he was assigned to and he began driving older buses that further aggravated his injury.

'Further, in or about 2016, Defendant started assigning Bride with older model buses which continually shook and/or whose seat was located at such a long distance from the pedals that Bride had to stretch and contort his body to be able to use those pedals," the claim states. "As a consequence, Bride suffered a new work-related injury and filed a workers' compensation claim for that injury on or about February 14, 2017."

The driver said he asked the district to accommodate him with the same type of seat he'd used in the past, to no avail. He also claimed that, despite his requests, the district instead assigned a newer bus with the new seat to a female bus driver and stopped allowing him to use school restrooms, despite female drivers having access to restrooms.

The lawsuit claims the longtime bus driver wasn't allowed to take work breaks at appropriate times and instead was required to take breaks close to the beginning and end of his shifts.

Bride said he believes his employer created a hostile work environment, retaliated against him for filing a workers' compensation claim and discriminated against him due to his gender.

Bride filed a civil rights complaint with the state's labor division and is still employed by the district, according to his attorney.

"He's an employee of the district, but as I understand it he's currently on leave," Brian Potter, Bride's attorney, said Tuesday. He declined to comment on whether he expects the complaint will be handled out of court or will go to a jury trial, as requested in the lawsuit.

The district confirmed that, as of Tuesday, it had yet to be served with a notice of the complaint.

"Generally we don't comment on pending litigation," said Maureen Wheeler, public information officer for the district.


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