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Employer Pays High Price For Perceived Cruelty to ADA Protected Employee

Michael Axel was a 71 year-old used car and wholesale manager for Fields Motorcars of Florida. He was employed for at least ten years without any record of disciplinary or corrective action. Several years before his termination in 2014, Mr. Axel was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He underwent experimental treatment, which caused significant side effects. Nevertheless, Mr. Axel returned to work where his supervisor allegedly expressed frustration with Mr. Axel. The supervisor allegedly said that Mr. Axel was “not getting real doctors treatment” but “other holistic or crazy things.” Mr. Axel also claimed that he was repeatedly passed up for promotions.

The dealership ended Mr. Axel’s employment, claiming that in documents dating back to 2004 he had made misrepresentations. The documents were submitted to get an auto auction access card for Mr. Axel’s son. There was no evidence that the son had misused his authority under the access card. The company claimed that they had just found the misrepresentations 10 years later and decided to terminate him. There was no investigation into the purported misrepresentations nor did they speak to Mr. Axel before firing him.

A Florida jury found in favor of Mr. Axel on his claim of disability discrimination, awarding him $680,000 in lost wages and benefits, $600,000 for emotional distress, and $3.22 million dollars in punitive damages.