A disabled military veteran has filed suit against Palmer College of Chiropractic alleging discrimination and harassment due to his age and disability.
Darren Petro, who was a student at Palmer, filed suit Jan. 16 in Scott County District Court after the Davenport Civil Rights Commission issued him a right to sue letter in November.
In court documents, Petro alleged that "Palmer engaged in a continuing pattern of aggravating and egregious conduct," which eventually led to him withdrawing from school on Feb. 14, 2014.
Petro sustained lower back injuries in 2009 while serving in Iraq and began attending Palmer in 2012.
Over the span of two years, Petro documented a number of instances where he alleged he was subjected to a "continuing pattern and practice of discrimination" based on age.
One of the incidents listed in court documents was a conversation Petro allegedly had with Provost Dan Weinert.
"Weinert told Petro that Palmer 'really didn’t have a fit for people like you,'" the court documents stated. "Petro told him that wasn’t acceptable. After this exchange, Weinert refused to speak with Petro."
In another incident discussed in the court documents, Petro alleged Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Kevin Cunningham informed him of an Early Alert Response System complaint and told him "'no one likes you" and suggested that he quit, that the situation was Petro's fault and he "needed to get a sense of humor."
Petro also documented a number of instances where professors allegedly made remarks like "I don't really care; we usually don't have people your age here," "When were you in high school? 1912?" and "How old are you? What are you doing here?"
The final straw for Petro, which occurred 10 days before he withdrew, was when he learned that a security staff member had allegedly sent a text message to classmates in which Petro was described as "a mentally ill ex-CIA officer, that he threatened two female professors in the classroom, and that the school had posted guards outside specific classrooms where Petro was likely to attack."
Petro filed a charge of discrimination with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission two months later. Petro filed similar charges with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission in October 2014.
In July 2017, the Davenport Civil Rights Commission made a probable cause determination that Palmer discriminated against Petro because of his disability.
Two months later, the probable cause determination was amended to include Petro being discriminated and harassed based on his age.
Vice Chancellor for Marketing & Communication Jim O'Connor said while he could confirm that Petro was a student for two years and left in good standing, he could not offer any other comments because of the pending litigation.