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Former employee files federal complaint alleging UTA discriminates against west side

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Posted at 5:59 PM, Apr 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-07 19:59:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Michael Clara has filed a federal complaint against the Utah Transit Authority, claiming the agency has focused the majority of their bus stop upgrades in affluent neighborhoods.

Those upgrades include trash cans and, more importantly, access for those with disabilities.

"Typically, the ADA calls for a person with a disability in a wheelchair can be able to sit on the bench and have their wheelchair next to it, and they couldn't do that here," Clara says of some of those stops.

Clara says title VI neighborhoods on the west side have been neglected by UTA.

With maps and data to back it up, UTA Engineering and Construction Planner Jacob Splan says Clara's claim couldn't be farther from reality.

"Right now we're improving about 90 percent of our stops in a title VI neighborhood,” Splan said.

We should note, Clara is a former UTA employee. He also says he was fired illegally. FOX 13 News' Dora Scheidell asked Clara: is this complaint is payback?

“Well it can't be," he replied. "Payback, I think you would have to make that up and stuff. This accusation stands on its own."

UTA Spokesman Remy Barron spoke briefly about the former employee.

"Generally we don't talk about employees that have been terminated," he said. "I'm not going to say anything bad about Mr. Clara."

Clara's claims may put UTA under the federal microscope, but the agency says they have nothing to hide.

"I feel the data shows for itself that we're above and beyond the requirements of the federal government," Splan said.

The UTA will now have to show its data to the government. No word on when they will do that or when the government will weigh in.