Score another one for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mark Scolforo of the Associated Press filed this story last week:
A federal jury awarded $3.4 million Tuesday to a blind woman who was fired as head of Pennsylvania’s state agency for the blind and visually impaired, ruling that she was discriminated against because of her disability….
[Christine] Boone sued the state Department of Labor and Industry and its head, Secretary Stephen Schmerin, as well as the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and its since-retired executive director, Stephen Nasuti. In the jury award, each man was ordered to pay $1.5 million in compensatory damages for emotional distress Boone said she suffered as a result of their actions. The award also included punitive damages and the value jurors put on her lost future earning power.
If Boone was indeed fired because she was blind, is it a relevant fact that her replacement, Pamela Shaw, is also blind? Apparently not to Mr. Scolforo, who omitted this detail from the AP account. Nor was it deemed relevant to the 100 other news outlets that Google News says carried this story last week, but none of which Google claims also included the name “Shaw”. I only found the fact from the pajama-clad bloggers at Overlawyered.com.
My notion of fairness is that everyone should have a chance to prove they can do the job satisfactorily. I just happen to believe that the most important people you have to persuade of this are the folks who pay your salary, not the good citizens who sit in a jury box.
Elsewhere in the news, drug maker Merck, which other juries are destined to plunder for many, many billions of dollars, announced it will eliminate 7,000 jobs and close or sell 5 manufacturing facilities.
Not to worry. This is just an example of what Joseph Schumpeter called creative destruction. As soon as we can get those former Merck employees retrained as lawyers, they’ll be doing something that society values more than developing medicines that ease pain or cure disease.
The market has spoken. Who am I to argue?