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 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 related to 2010 decision in the Blake case.

Lew December 20, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Does this type of behavior really surprise anyone?
Buck Harmon December 20, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Business as usual...
M. Sullivan December 20, 2012 at 01:56 PM
With our aging workforce maybe it's time to revisit the laws regarding mandatory retirement age, which is currently unlawful in the U.S. for most professions. Pilots and law enforcement have legal mandatory retirement ages partially due to the effect their job performance has on other citizens. The idea of how your job performance can affect others can be extended to such professions as heavy equipment operators, where the effects of aging on the operator can result in fatalities of others around them. While most professions would not be affected, there are some where common sense dictates controlling the retirement age.
Steve December 20, 2012 at 02:25 PM
These "victims" are like sharks that smell blood in the water.
Lablover December 20, 2012 at 04:00 PM
When will county executive Kevin Kamenetz get rid of his administrative officer Fred Homan who started all of this? Why is Mr. Kamenetz afraid of Fred? Enough is enough! And Steve I hope these "victims" get a ton of money for what Fred Homan has put them and their family through!!!
Mr. Anonymous December 20, 2012 at 08:24 PM
This guy will grab for money until he is in the ground.
Cheryl Parks-Weidley December 21, 2012 at 12:47 AM
After 30 years on a job, it seems very unfair not to meet the retirement expectations under which the emplotee was most likely hired.
John L. December 21, 2012 at 12:59 AM
As a County taxpayer I am out raged that the County still sees fit to continue to conduct itself in a manner that has cost many thousands of our dollars for nothing but harrassment of employees. The County should fire those 'legal' advisors they have because of these many failed law suits. Where will all this nonsense stop? Where is the leadership of the County allowing this conduct to go on? The bleeding of our taxdollars is inexcusable.
Matt December 22, 2012 at 12:57 AM
So they should just get pushed around by the county?
Lablover December 24, 2012 at 05:01 PM
John L., it appears that Mr. Kamenetz is afraid of Fred Homan just like Jim Smith was. Until KK grows a set (am I allowed to say that?) it will be business as usual. Fred must have a little black book with info on KK!
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