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MEALEY'S ADA REPORT: TRIAL OF FIRST EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION SUIT FILED UNDER ADA CONCLUDES TODAY; JURY FINDS DEFENDANT VIOLATED ADA

 CHICAGO, March 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Trial of the first employment discrimination suit filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) concluded today when a jury returned a verdict that a Chicago-area security company violated the ADA by firing its executive director because he had been diagnosed with brain cancer.
 The suit was brought in U.S. District Court here on behalf of the fired executive, Charles Wessel, by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) in November.
 According to a report in this month's Mealey's Litigation Report: ADA, of Wayne, Pa., government attorneys argued that Wessel has a disability as defined by the ADA and that he is "otherwise qualified" for the position he held. Wessel and his attorneys also stated that he was capable of performing his duties "with or without a reasonable accommodation by the employer," and that his disability "did not prevent him from performing the essential functions of the position." EEOC asserted that Wessel's disability was the "sole motivating factor" in his dismissal.
 Attorneys for the defendant, AIC Security Investigations, argued that Wessel's condition limited him, and that the security business is an extremely competitive one. They said Wessel had to be available at all times. Even by driving a car, Wessel could have posed a threat "to the health or safety of himself or others in the workplace," the defense argued.
 The jury this afternoon found, though, that AIC violated the ADA, and awarded Wessel $22,000 in back pay, plus compensatory damages of $50,000. A total $500,000 punitive damage award against AIC and its owner, Ruth Vrdolyak, was reduced because the ADA caps punitive damages at $200,000.
 "This is a giant win for the government and for people with disabilities," according to Tom Hagy, editor of Mealey's Litigation Report: ADA. "This verdict, plus other recent rulings and settlements under the public accommodation sections of the act, demonstrates that the ADA is a considerable weapon in the hands of the disabled and the government."
 This is the first, and so far only, ADA suit brought by the EEOC, according to Mealey's ADA report. Hagy noted that more than 4,300 administrative charges have been filed with the EEOC under the ADA, and that more than 2,000 of those were discriminatory discharge claims like Wessel's. "Many of these cases are likely to become suits, especially now that disabled people will see that the act has teeth," Hagy said.
 For further information, Hagy can be reached at 215-688-6566 or in the evening at 609-384-1322. Hagy is managing editor with Mealey Publications Inc.
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 /CONTACT: Tom Hagy of Mealey Publications, 215-688-6566, or evenings, 609-384-1322/


CO: Mealey Publications, Inc.; AIC Security Investigations ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:

CC -- PH032 -- 7707 03/18/93 18:38 EST
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Date:Mar 18, 1993
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