By Judy Harrison – November 13, 2015
PORTLAND, Maine — A federal jury on Tuesday awarded a former Auburn postal worker $150,000 after it determined that the U.S. Postal Service had failed to accommodate his disability.
Steven Heath of Gray suffered from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to court documents. He sued the postal service in October 2013 alleging that he suffered from discriminatory harassment based on his mental disability.
Heath left his job in 2006 and began receiving 75 percent of his salary the following year under the Federal Employment Compensation Act, his attorney, Michael X. Savasuk of Portland, said Thursday. In the lawsuit, Heath also sought an additional 25 percent in workers compensation because he was 100 percent disabled, Savasuk said.
The jury awarded Heath $60,000 in back pay, $70,000 in compensatory damages and $20,000 in pecuniary damages, after a weeklong trial. Pecuniary damages are awarded for a specific damage, which in Heath’s case was to repair damage to his teeth resulting from severe grinding after he was unable to work, according to court documents.
“Mr. Heath feels vindicated,” Savasuk said. “It’s been a long process for him. His wife told the jury under cross-examination that the lawsuit wasn’t about the money, it was was about justice. I think that impressed the jury.”
Donald Clark, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Portland, which defended the U.S. Postal Service, declined to comment Thursday.