Tuesday, February 28, 2006.
A jury recently ordered the Pennsylvania Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services to pay $3.4 million to a blind employee who claimed that she was forced out of her job in 2003.
Christine L. Boone, the Bureau's former director, filed a complaint of disability discrimination with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. She claimed that Stephen Nasuti, director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the agency housing the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, told her that because she was blind, she was incapable of management.
The case went to federal court, where a jury heard hotly disputed testimony over the reasons for Boone's firing. The Bureau charged her with financial mismanagement in the loss of several thousand dollars spent for a statewide staff training meeting that she had organized. Boone claimed that the loss occurred because Nasuti cancelled the meeting and blamed her for the unnecessary expenditure.
The jury believed Boone, awarding her $180,000 in front pay, or future wages she lost because of the firing. It also decided that Labor Secretary Stephen Schmerin and Nasuti had defamed her by making public statements that called into question her professional qualifications, and ordered Schmerin to pay her $1.74 million and Nasuti, $1.62 million for the emotional distress suffered because of their actions.
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