Former puppy mascot sues Boardman pet store - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Former puppy mascot sues Boardman pet store

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BOARDMAN TWP., Ohio -

CLARIFICATION:  John Buchanan is not seeking $10,000 from his former employer. He seeks a non-discriminatory higher rate of pay from the pet store, compensation “for future pecuniary losses,” punitive damages,  and compensation for “nonpecuniary losses,” such as mental anguish. If appropriate, Buchanan also seeks so-called “front pay”--compensation while an employee is out of work and looking for a new job.

A Boardman pet store is being sued by a former employee who used to stand on the corner wearing a puppy costume while waving at passing traffic.

John Buchanan filed the civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Harbor Pet Center claiming he was the victim of racial and disability discrimination.

In the lawsuit, Buchanan describes himself an African-American former below-the-knee Amputee, halfway house resident who was hired by the pet store in May 2017 for duties that included dressing in a puppy costume and holding a sign at the corner of Market Street and Route 224.

He says he was hired under a program offered by the Community Corrections Association of Youngstown which allows former offenders to transition back into society.

Buchanan says that the company failed to pay him at a higher rate than the $8.15 per hour minimum wage rate allegedly promised to him when he had to wear the costume during hot weather.

He also says Harbor Pet failed to give him a promised raise 30 days after he began working there.

After Buchanan was released from the halfway house, he claims he got the okay from one of the business owners to accommodate his new situation, which included catching the bus between Struthers and Boardman to get to work.

According to the suit, a white male was hired to take over his store mascot duties, and he was assigned to kennel duty which included bathing puppies, cleaning bowls, toys, grates, trays and administering medicine to dogs.

Buchanan says on several occasions there were disputes with other owners and the general manager over his restricted availability which culminated in October 2017 when he says he was fired by one of the owners for leaving work early due to a medical condition.

Buchanan, who now lives in Texas, is asking the court to award him $10,000 in damages.

Harbor Pet Center has not yet filed a response to the suit which was filed on Tuesday.  

The lawsuit may be seen here

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