MANHATTAN (CN) – A news hawker says AM New York fired him after he was arrested for doing his job: handing out free newspapers at Manhattan subway stops. In his federal claim, Roger Wright says he did not know that the job was “fraught with peril,” but his bosses did, and didn’t warn him or tell him what to do about it.
Wright says that his bosses at AM New York “knew that in the past AMNY workers had been arrested by New York City Police Officers for obstructing the flow of subway traffic,” but they offered him “no advanced guidance as to what to do ” if an officer approached him.
He says he found out soon enough. Wright says that when he went to the Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street Station to hand out the papers on March 17, a cop told him to move his newspapers, and he obeyed. Wright says he was arrested anyway because “the police did not like the place he moved his papers to.”
Wright says he spent 24 hours in jail, pleaded guilty to the charge and paid a $120 fine. He says his supervisor, defendant Steve Peterscheim, became “enraged” that he pleaded guilty and “said that the company always get those cased dismissed.”
Wright claims that after he went back to work, he was fired over the telephone. He says he got his job back after protesting, but had to see a doctor because the stressful episodes caused pre-existing heart condition to flare up.
“At this point, (Wright) was fired again, this time on the pretext that he took too many absences – a total of three over the course of several months, all excused by doctors’ notes,” the complaint states. “In fact, the defendants were retaliating against (him) for pleading guilty to a charge that they themselves had set him up for – obstructing traffic in the subway.”
Wright demands damages for gross negligence, retaliation and disability discrimination. He is represented by Gregory Antollino.