Former sanitation worker claims he was denied grant despite 40 y - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Former sanitation worker claims he was denied grant despite 40 years of service

Kelly Lofton said he worked as a sanitation employee with City of Memphis for 40 years. (Source: WMC Action News 5) Kelly Lofton said he worked as a sanitation employee with City of Memphis for 40 years. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Kelly Lofton (right) and his daughter, Elaine. (Source: WMC Action News 5) Kelly Lofton (right) and his daughter, Elaine. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

A Memphis man said he is being denied money owed to him by City of Memphis from his time as a sanitation worker. And, he said he has proof.

Elaine Lofton, whose father is a retired sanitation worker, was proud to hear City of Memphis was offering $70,000 retirement grants to the full-time sanitation workers who went on strike in 1968. But, the city said its records show her father doesn't qualify.

To qualify for the grant, recipients needed to meet the following criteria:

1. Full-time employees for the sanitation department in February 1968
2. Eligible to retire with at least 25 years of full-time service
3. Not a pension recipient

Kelly Lofton, 86, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for decent wages and treatment, said he had at least 25 years of full-time service as a sanitation worker. His daughter helped him apply for the grant.

"To read this letter to say he had less than 23 years with the city when he really had 45 years was a slap in the face," she said.

City of Memphis said its records show Lofton didn't become a full-time employee until 1972. 

Elaine showed WMC5's Jerica Phillips a service pin that was awarded to her father in 2009 for 40 years of service. It was given to him by then-Mayor Willie Herenton.

"The fact that someone received a 40-year service pin doesn't mean that they were actually a full-time employee in 1968," City of Memphis Public Works Director Robert Knecht said.

But, Lofton also kept a letter that said the pin was awarded for full-time service.

The city said record-keeping and technology has obviously changed over the years and if there is an error on its part, it will review all claims submitted by October 1.

"And if we make a mistake, then we will correct it," Knecht said.

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