County Sued For Age Discrimination, Disability Act Violations
A lawsuit filed on behalf of a county employee seeks more than $2 million for each of four alleged violations.
A 71-year-old man who claims the county forced him into retirement has filed suit in federal court alleging age discrimination and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
William Galanti, a 30-year employee of the county's highways bureau, filed the claim this week in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. The four-count suit alleges one count of age discrimination as well as being forced to submit to illegal medical exams, harassment and illegal discharge.
The suit sees more than $2 million plus interest and attorney's fees for each of the four counts.
"Mr. Galanti is a fabulous gentleman who for over three decades did hard work for the county and the community plowing snow and digging ditches," said Kathleen Cahill, an attorney representing Galanti. "In the end, he gets injured on the job and this is how the county treats him and it's wrong."
Ellen Kobler, a county spokeswoman, declined to comment on the suit.
Galanti was 69 in February 2011 when he fell and fractured his hip while on the job. He filed for workers compensation. The county required Galanti to submit to medical exams performed by Dr. Peter Oroszlan, who ultimately found that Galanti was not fit to return to the job despite being discharged from physical therapy ahead of schedule and cleared for work by his own doctor, according to records filed in federal and Baltimore County Circuit Court.
Faced with termination, Galanti opted to take full retirement. The lawsuit alleges that the county, without Galanti's permission, changed his retirement status to that of a disability retirement which resulted in a loss of survivor's benefits for his wife. The suit alleges that the county made the change in an attempt to cut off worker's compensation benefits.
Galanti appealed the change to the Baltimore County Board of Appeals. In October, the board ruled in Galanti's favor and ordered the county to restore his full retirement benefits.
In the decision, the board wrote that they believed "Dr. Oroszlan was hired for the purpose of finding that Mr. Galanti could no longer do his job as a result of his injury."
The board added that the county "had no legal basis from which to withhold the granting of retirement benefits."
The county has not restored Galanti's retirement benefits nor the survivor benefits for his wife and has filed an appeal in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
Cahill, on behalf of her client, has asked the court to order the county to comply with the Board of Appeals order plus any damages and attorney's fees the court sees fit to award.
In an interview, Cahill said the suit filed in federal court was part of a coming second wave of suits against the county involving disability act violations. She declined to say how many more are likely to be filed.
"What was done to Mr. Galanti was done to him and many other current and former county employees," Cahill said.
Earlier this year, the county entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice involving 10 employees. The county agreed to pay a total of $500,000 to the affected employees and submit to three years of monitoring by the Department of Justice.
In all of those cases, the county used Oroszlan to perform illegal medical inquiries. The court order bars the county from using his services in the future.
Cahill was the attorney in those cases as well as three other federal suits filed by two fire fighters and a police officer who claim they too they were forced out of their jobs after being forced to submit to what they claim were illegal medical tests.
The Towson-based attorney also represented Det. William Blake, who was awarded $225,000 by a federal jury that found that the county forced him to undergo illegal medical tests after he testified on behalf of another officer who had a seizure.
Last month, a federal judge ordered the county to pay more than $500,000 in attorney's fees related to 2010 decision in the Blake case.