In the first phase of the Barry Silbowitz lawsuit against the Village of Atlantic Beach, the seven-person jury found the village and Superintendent of Public Works Steve Cherson guilty of two of the four claims in a decision on Oct. 7.
Silbowitz “was subjected to a hostile and abusive work environment,” said his attorney Ian M. Sack and that Cherson “violated Barry Silbowitz’s equal rights and intentionally harassed him based on his disability.”
“It was intentional harassment based on his disability,” Sack said.
This initial trial found who is at fault and the second part that is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 13 will set damages, Sack said. Silbowitz was seeking reinstatement to his former job, but sources say his position was eliminated more than a year ago.
He is also seeking past and future lost wages, including bonuses, commissions and employment benefits and damages for emotional and physical injury and distress, punitive damages and pre and post-judgment interest.
Silbowitz, 28, of Atlantic Beach, originally filed his suit in January of 2009, claiming that Cherson and his subordinate Kevin Karmel subjected Silbowitz, who collected litter and performed other maintenance tasks, to more than 12 different forms of abuse.
The lawsuit also claimed that he was wrongfully fired and he was the victim of “vicious acts of discriminatory treatment,” due to his disability. Silbowitz was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder as child.
He also suffers from multiple cognitive and behavioral deficits and is limited in the type of work he can do and needs, “constant direction and supervision.”
He began as a seasonal worker for the village and became full-time in 2005. The lawsuit stated that the abusive language, acts of violence and other abuses began in September of that year. The suit claimed that Silbowitz was fired for retaliating against Cherson for a past assault.
Some of the acts included Silbowitz being held down and having car jumper cables attached to his back, being spat on and struck him repeatedly on the head and being called a retard and idiot, along with other derogatory epitaphs.
“It’s really a lot of nothing,” Cherson said previously.
Though the Village Attorney didn’t return a call for comment sources said that appeal could be forthcoming.