TYLER — A former employee alleges that the junior college where he worked fired him because he contacted authorities and the media about asbestos issues on campus.
Dalton Smith filed a suit on Oct. 6 in the Tyler Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas against Kilgore College and its president, William Holda, for alleged violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act and First Amendment Retaliation.
The suit alleged that Smith, who had been employed by Kilgore College for 13 years, was unlawfully terminated on Aug. 13, 2015. Before his termination, Smith was the director of the physical plant at Kilgore College, making him responsible for all facilities and supervisor of a team of maintenance employees.
According to the suit, Smith became aware of asbestos in one of the school's buildings that was not being handled properly. Pipes covered in asbestos-containing insulation allegedly were improperly removed and thrown into the trash along with tile that also contained asbestos. Employees also were allegedly told to throw asbestos-containing tabletops from the science building into the trash, according to the suit. Some tabletops containing asbestos allegedly were kept, sanded down and repainted, according to the suit.
Smith reported the violations to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, as well as the media.
The suit alleged that as retaliation Smith was stripped of his supervisor role, and placed in a satellite campus where other employees were directed not to assist or speak with him. Additionally, he was not permitted to drive onto campus without notifying the campus police, the suit alleged. Eventually, Smith was fired, according to court documents.
Smith seeks a trial by jury, actual damages, compensatory damages in the maximum amount allowed by law, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney fees, expert witness fees, court fees and any further legal equitable relief he is entitled to. He is represented by Gregory P. Love of Love Law Firm in Henderson.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Tyler Division Case number 6:15-cv-00887-MHS