A former Sandy engineer has filed a U.S. District Court lawsuit against the city and Mayor Steve Newton for allegedly demoting him and refusing him sick leave after he complained of favoritism and inefficiency.

Mike McCarver claims he was ordered to pull work crews off regularly scheduled projects to handle minor complaints by the mayor's associates. And when he complained that residents in some areas of town were not required to pay the regular 50 percent of their concrete maintenance costs, he was threatened with firing, the lawsuit said."Is that a cause of action, or is it an attempt to raise some smoke and get some money out the city because it's an election year?" the mayor responded Monday. "I can certainly deny that claim."

McCarver claims the mayor told him to "follow orders" and threatened, "Learn to play ball or I'll get rid of you."

"We didn't fire him - he quit," said the mayor, adding he once recommended the plaintiff as city employee of the month. "If he's trying to paint me out as a guy who was trying to force him out and get rid of him, that's not true," the mayor said.