Three years after former Workers Compensation Administrative Judge Matthew Vacca filed suit against the Missouri Division of Labor and Industrial Relations, as well as its director and a fellow administrative law judge, alleging that he suffered discrimination and retaliation on the basis of his disability in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act, a jury awarded him $4 million in actual damages, and $3 million in punitive damages. The punitive damage award included a $500,000 award against the director, sued in his individual capacity as acting outside the scope of his authority.
Specifically, Vacca alleged that when the individual defendants came to power, they interfered with his then existing reasonable accommodation and later terminated him in retaliation for making reasonable accommodation requests such as closer parking, a bathroom that met ADA standards, and a modified work schedule.
The Division of Labor denied that it, or the named individuals, discriminated against Vacca, or that the defendants retaliated against him, submitting that Vacca was discharged because he received long-term disability benefits, but that his disability itself was not a contributing factor.
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