Former UTA employee ready to take on former bosses at trial

KUTV Bus stop UTA Salt Lake 091317.JPG
Former UTA employee ready to take on former bosses at trial (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) For the last two years, Michael Clara has been trying to fight what he says was his wrongful termination from his 20-year job at Utah Transit Authority.

It seems Clara will finally get his day in court on September 20. He’s been summoned to a hearing at federal court in Salt Lake. A judge from the U.S. Department of Labor will hear the case.

Clara was fired from UTA in October of 2015. His bosses claimed he abandoned his job by going on vacation and not returning to work on the scheduled date.

Clara said he never abandoned his job. He feels he was fired because he tried to put a stop to construction of bus stops that were not built according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He said UTA built the bus stops despite his objections because the agency wanted to present a good public image in advance of a bond election that would have provided funds to UTA (the bond measure failed).

“They were upset that I wasn’t complicit in their unethical behavior,” he said.

Clara said he has spent about 30 thousand dollars over the last two years, getting his case to this point.

He has filed requests for government records obtaining emails and other UTA documents that he says prove he did not abandon his job, but rather moved his vacation by one week – with the knowledge of his superior- to accommodate a work project.

He also obtained emails that he said will prove that his bosses were angry when they learned he tried to halt the bus stop project by reporting issues at several levels within the UTA organization.

Clara said UTA has offered him a settlement in the past but he felt it was not enough to compensate him for his unemployment, legal fees and suffering since the firing.

UTA Spokesperson Andrea Packer responded to a request for an interview with this statement:

“UTA declines to comment on pending litigation, as well as being sensitive to commenting on personnel matters. This is a common legal situation, we are proceeding through the legal process and confident that we will ultimately prevail.”