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Alcoa Inc. was ordered to pay $1.5 million to a West Covina man who said he was fired instead of given a chance to take other available jobs when he returned from a lengthy medical leave caused by an on- the-job injury.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for about a day before returning a verdict Tuesday in favor of 62-year-old Raymond Adame. His claims included wrongful termination, disability discrimination and failing to participate in the interactive process.

Alcoa attorneys denied any wrongdoing on the part of the company.

Trial testimony showed Adame worked for 38 years at Alcoa subsidiary Alcoa Fastening Systems in Industry. His attorney, Irving Meyer, said Adame operated machines that built fasteners for aircraft.

Adame was hurt in July 2007 when a transformer fell on him and was off work for more than two years, Meyer said. When he returned, he asked for work that would require the lifting of lighter loads, and several jobs were available that he could have filled, Meyer said.

Adame claimed the company’s head of human resources told him, “You have disabilities” and “You have to be 100 percent healthy to work at Alcoa … That’s our corporate policy.”

Adame was given sorting and inventory work for about a week before he was fired, according to his court papers.

Meyer said Adame will appeal a judge’s ruling before trial that he could not seek punitive damages. Adame also will be asking for attorney’s fees, Meyer said.

— City News Service 

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