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A former traffic-light installer is suing Palm Beach County for firing him because he is colorblind and could not distinguish between red and green wires.

Cleveland Merritt, 54, of Riviera Beach, contends in his federal lawsuit that the county violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. He seeks lost wages dating from his firing in 1997, the Palm Beach Post reported Wednesday.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission already has ruled that the county discriminated against Merritt.

But the county said it was not illegal to fire Merritt from his $20,000-a-year job for failing to do his work, which required discerning between some of the 19 differently colored wires in a traffic light.

Merritt's attorney, Sandra Bosso-Pardo, said the county could have kept him on the job by assigning him to other duties not affected by his colorblindness.

The county plans to ask a judge to dismiss the case.

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