Courts & Crime

Kentucky grad student claims he was fired for having gun

A University of Kentucky graduate student has sued the university and others, claiming he was wrongfully fired from his job at the UK Chandler Medical Center because he had a handgun in his car.

The car was parked at Commonwealth Stadium while he was at work.

Michael Mitchell, who had a permit allowing him to have a concealed weapon, was working as an anesthesia technician at the medical center in April 2009, when he was fired.

Mitchell contends that under state law he was allowed to have the gun in his car and that state law supersedes UK rules prohibiting deadly weapons on campus by anyone other than authorized personnel, such as police, security or military personnel; or students who are participating in athletic or academic activities such as Reserve Officers' Training Corps or rifle team.

Mitchell has not been able to find another job. He said he thinks his being fired from UK has something to do with that.

"I was flabbergasted," Mitchell said of his firing. "It looks like I was a bad employee . . . which is not the case." He said he worked as much as 120 hours every two weeks while he was at the medical center and had received commendations for his work.

Mitchell, 26, is working on a master's degree in epidemiology and hopes to attend medical school at UK. When UK officials found out about the gun, they indicated that his student status could be revoked, but later they said he could finish school, said his attorney, Christopher Hunt.

Whether the issue with the gun will be a factor in Mitchell's attending medical school at UK hasn't come up, Hunt said.

UK attorney Barbara Jones had no comment on the lawsuit.

"The whole situation came down to somebody overhearing a conversation," Mitchell said Monday.