Man with prosthetic hand wins employment discrimination case against FBI

A jury decided a man with a prosthetic hand was capable of being an FBI special agent.

The jury awarded Justin Slaby, 30, of Milwaukee, Wis., $75,000 for emotional harm Wednesday, after eight hours of deliberation in a Virginia federal courtroom.

His condition did not place an undue hardship on the agency, the jury wrote on a verdict form.

Victoria Attorney John W. Griffin Jr., one of several in Slaby's legal team, called the verdict "historic."

He's hopeful, with a new FBI director starting next month, policies regarding people with disabilities will change.

"The bright light that shines about this case is the light that shines on a person's actual abilities, not their precise diagnosis or injuries," Griffin said. "We don't judge books by their covers. We judge books by their content."

Slaby claimed the agency unfairly dismissed him after he'd already been hired for the job and was training in Quantico.

He lost his left hand in 2004 during training as an Army Ranger in Georgia, Griffin said.

Kevin J. Mikolashek of the U.S. Attorney's Office could not be reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon.

The FBI said in court documents, though, that Slaby "could not safely and effectively satisfy all the requirements of the training curriculum and perform the essential functions of the job."

But the plaintiff's attorney showed a different approach.

"We showed other agents in the field had overcome injuries in one of their hands and were able to be successful," Griffin said of some of the testimony and evidence admitted during the lengthy trial before federal Judge Anthony J. Trenga.

Trenga is expected to calculate later how much back pay and benefits Slaby should receive as well as the terms of his reinstatement as a special agent, he said.