Braille Monitor                                                                  November 1985

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Mary Hartle and the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota Win

(Note: The following news release was issued by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota September 5, 1985.)

A blind woman has reached a settlement in a suit she filed against her former employer, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Joyce Scanlan, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota, announced today. "Through this case, we have again demonstrated that blind employees will not accept the kind of treatment Mary Hartle suffered at the hands of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, the very entity charged with responsibility to uphold the rights of all citizens," Scanlan said. According to the agreement, the department will pay Mary Hartle a lump sum of $10,000 in damages. The department will also remove and destroy all negative references and/or correspondence concerning Hartle's performance as Information Officer II from her personnel file. Additionally, the department will limit correspondence and communications regarding Hartle's performance to records in her personnel file after documents making negative references to her performance have been removed. The department will also pay Hartle's health insurance premiums for six months.

Hartle sought assistance from the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota and from her labor union, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, after learning that her position as Information Officer II would be abolished. Hartle filed a grievance alleging discrimination on the basis of disability and constructive discharge. After Hartle filed the grievance, the Assistant Commissioner, Walter Barwick, attempted to force Hartle's immediate supervisor to change the performance rating she had given Hartle in the annual performance evaluation conducted at about the time Hartle filed her grievance. Hartle had received a rating of "clearly outstanding in all phases of her position" from her supervisor. Hartle filed a civil suit on March 7, 1985, against Commissioner of Human Rights, Linda Johnson; Assistant Commissioner, Walter Barwick; and the Department of Human Rights. In addition to alleging that her job as Information Officer II was abolished because of her blindness, the suit also asserted that the defendants took retaliation against her for filing a union grievance alleging discrimination.

The NFB of Minnesota provided financial assistance for the suit and technical assistance for the suit and the grievance. "I appreciate the assistance I received from both the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota and my labor union, MAPE, in resolving this case," Hartle said. "I am pleased with the settlement, and I feel vindicated," she continued.

"If it had not been for the Federation, I would have had to pursue my discrimination case on my own, since I was accusing the very people charged with enforcing the law of violating it," Hartle explained.