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New Jersey Employment Lawyers > Blog > Disability Discrimination > New York Jury Awards Employee $1.675 Million in Disability Discrimination Case (Significant Punitive Damages)

New York Jury Awards Employee $1.675 Million in Disability Discrimination Case (Significant Punitive Damages)


On February 8th, 2024, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) confirmed that a jury in Western New York awarded $1.675 million in financial compensation to a deaf individual who was subject to disability discrimination. Notably, the award includes $1.5 million in punitive damages. Here, our New York City disability discrimination attorney discusses the judgment and the key issues raised in this case.

Jury Award: Distribution Company Liable for Refusal to Interview, Hire Deaf Employee 

An employment law matter went to trial in Western New York. The defendant—McLane Northeast—owns and operates a large distribution facility in Baldwinsville. After a multi-day trial, the company was found liable for disability discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Specifically, the employer in New York was found to have violated the anti-discrimination protections of the ADA when it refuses to interview and hear a deaf job candidate for an entry-level position in a warehouse. The interview was denied after the company learned of the employee’s hearing disability. Deafness is protected under the ADA. After a comprehensive deliberation, the jury awarded the worker $25,000 in back pay, $150,000 in emotional distress, and an additional $1.5 million in punitive damages against the business.

The ADA Prohibits Disability Discrimination 

The ADA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in many areas of public life, including employment. The goal of the ADA is to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. It applies to all businesses and organizations in New York with 15 or more full-time or part-time employees. The ADA mandates that employers cannot discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities in any aspect of employment—from hiring to job duties to opportunities for promotion. Notably, the ADA requires employers to make a proactive and good faith effort to find a reasonable accommodation for qualified applicants with disabilities.

What to Know About Punitive Damages Under the ADA

Punitive damages under the ADA are financial penalties that are imposed on employers who have engaged in especially harmful discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Unlike compensatory damages, which are intended to reimburse the victim for actual losses like back pay or emotional distress, punitive damages are designed to punish egregious misconduct and deter similar behavior by others in the future. However, the ADA specifies that punitive damages can only be awarded in cases where the employer’s actions are proven to be malicious or recklessly indifferent to the federally protected rights of individuals with disabilities.

 Contact Our New York City Disability Discrimination Lawyer Today

At Poulos LoPiccolo PC, our New York City employee rights lawyer handles disability discrimination cases. If you have any questions about a disability discrimination claim, we are here as a resource. Call us now or contact us online for your fully private, no obligation case evaluation. From our office in Manhattan, we represent workers in disability discrimination cases in New York City and beyond.



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