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Former Bell Textron security guard sues company for alleged disability discrimination

Bell Textron is being sued by a former employee for alleged disability discrimination. The company is headquartered in Fort Worth.
Bell Textron website
Bell Textron is being sued by a former employee for alleged disability discrimination. The company is headquartered in Fort Worth.

A longtime security guard at Bell Textron Inc. said he was fired and discriminated against because he has post-traumatic stress disorder and other disabilities, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

Jeremy Collier had worked for the Fort Worth-based aerospace company from March 13, 2000, to Feb. 1, 2022, and worked up to become an in-house security guard, according to the lawsuit filed Dec. 16, 2022 by attorney Matthew Bobo. Collier filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the commission issued a notice of right to sue letter, according to the lawsuit.

Bell Textron Inc. denies the allegations made in the lawsuit, according to an official defendant answer Jan. 30 filed by lawyers Caroline Harrison and Spencer Mainka at Harrison Pham, LLP.

The defense alleges that Collier was an “at-will” employee whose position was terminated as a result of a reduction of force, according to the document.

“This is a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for a discharge that plaintiff will not be able to rebut,” the defense statement said.

Bell also alleges that Collier does not have a disability as defined by the American with Disabilities Act and he was not entitled to any reasonable accommodation. In addition, the accommodation request would have posed a “undue hardship” on Bell even if his disability was proven, the defense statement said. The document also says Bell denies that it took any adverse employment action against Collier “for his alleged disability or any perceived disability.”

Bell acknowledges Collier submitted a request to be allowed to bring his dog to work via a form titled “reasonable accommodation request form,” but denies that the company said it would have an answer in four to six days.

A Bell spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing pending litigation.

The lawsuit alleges Collier was diagnosed with PTSD by a mental health counselor in 2021 because of injuries, lack of treatment and experiences while serving in the U.S. Army from 1994 to 1998 in a special operations and reconnaissance unit and was honorably discharged, according to the lawsuit. He also was diagnosed with moderately severe depression and anxiety by Veterans Affairs, according to the lawsuit.

Collier had requested an accommodation for his disability in December 2021, which included a service dog. Bell told Collier would receive a response in four to six days, the lawsuit states, but he never received a response and Collier’s job was terminated less than two months later.

“(The) plaintiff’s employment was terminated, despite all his performance evaluations being commendable, and despite Bell’s acknowledgement of plaintiff’s integral role in improving processes and security outcomes during his nearly 22-year tenure,” the lawsuit said.

Collier is suing for monetary damages and lawyer fees.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth issued an order on Jan. 31 for the attorneys to meet Feb. 14 to consider the nature and basis of the claims and possibilities for a prompt resolution of the case.

O’Connor demanded a joint report by Feb. 28 that includes a brief summary of claims and defenses and a proposed trial date.

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at seth.bodine@fortworthreport.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policyhere.