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Patent examiner loses discrimination case

A former patent examiner has lost an appeal of his disability and race discrimination suit against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Chuckwudi Perry, who is African-American, has no vision in his left eye and reduced vision in his right eye. Yet, he held a driver’s license and could read using magnifying glasses and straight-edge devices. In his lawsuit, he alleged the PTO denied him a flexible schedule and later terminated him on the basis of his race.

Problems with vision have to be decided on a case-by-case basis, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its June 13 unpublished opinion rejecting Perry’s appeal. Reading for long periods may tire Perry, but he could read efficiently, drive and perform additional job functions at the USPTO, so he did not meet the Rehabilitation Act’s definition of disability. And he was fired more than three months after he first contacted an EEO specialist, so he could not show his complaint caused his termination.

–Deborah Elkins

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