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Worker fired after panic attacks wins $21.7 million in bias case

Posted On: Mar. 11, 2013 12:00 AM CST

Worker fired after panic attacks wins $21.7 million in bias case

A jury has awarded $21.7 million to a woman who claimed she was terminated by her employer because of her panic attacks.

April Rodriguez, a former customer service representative for City of Industry, Calif.-based Valley Vista Services Inc., was awarded $5.2 million in compensatory damages and $16.5 million in punitive damages by a jury in Los Angeles Superior Court last week, said her attorney, Casey Shegerian, of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Shegerian & Associates Inc. in a statement.

The statement said Ms. Rodriguez's claims of suffering from anxiety attacks were met with skepticism by the waste disposal company; that it failed to grant her leave time and other accommodations because of her condition, and fired her.

The jury found that Valley Vista and its parent company, Zerep Management Corp., discriminated against Ms. Rodriguez, 34, because of her mental disability and wrongfully fired her, and that it acted with malice, according to the statement. The companies are owned by former City of Industry Mayor David Perez and his brother, Manuel Pere