A Buffalo hotel bartender who was fired two years after his bosses discovered he was HIV positive won a $1.4 million verdict Friday in a discrimination case that paralleled the movie, "Philadelphia."
A U.S. District Court jury awarded the sum, including $1 million in punitive damages, to Danny T. Greenway of Buffalo, who tended bar at Charlie's Pub in the Buffalo Hilton for six years before he was terminated in February 1994.
The hotel claimed Greenway's dismissal, which followed four disciplinary write-ups, was justified under its "four strikes and you're out" employment policy.
But the plaintiff's lawyers, David Marcus and Tamara Giordano, noted that his work record was spotless from 1987, when he joined the Hilton, to 1992, when Greenway disclosed on a disability form that he had the AIDS virus.
In addition, the testimony of Greenway's co-workers and the Hilton's own records showed that some employees with many more disciplinary citations had not been suspended or fired, they said.
The panel deliberated about three hours before directing the Hilton to pay Greenway $1 million in punitive damages, $340,000 for medical bills, $65,000 in back pay and $50,000 for health insurance.
One of the few precedents for the case, Marcus said, was the one that provided the script for "Philadelphia," the 1994 film about a lawyer who sued the firm that fired him after he got AIDS. The role won Tom Hanks an Oscar.
Warren Davison, a Baltimore lawyer who defended the hotel, did not indicate whether the verdict will be appealed.