11 05 2008

State settles with disabled Livingston mother

May 9, 2008

Montana’s News Station.com

http://www.montanasnewsstation.com/Global/story.asp?S=8301559&nav=menu227_2

Helena, Mont. (AP) – The state said Friday that it has settled accusations that child protective services workers unfairly discriminated against a disabled Livingston woman.

The settlement will cost the state $330,000. Geri Glass, bound to a wheelchair following a car accident, said the workers put onerous and unfair conditions on her. Glass said that when her son Gage was a newborn, state Child and Family Services workers told her they would take her son if they learned she had been left alone with him.

The Department of Public Health and Human Services agreed to establish a special needs trust of $50,0000 for Glass, contribute $100,000 to future payments that will be paid to her child, and pay her attorney fees and costs totaling $180,000.

The agency will also train employees and correct procedures for dealing with similar situations.

Late last year, a state hearings officer ruled that the workers violated Glass’ rights and retaliated against her when she complained.

That hearings officer found that employees exaggerated Glass’ disability and placed more burdensome restrictions on her than on other parents. The officer found the agency dropped the investigation following news reports of Glass’ case and said the agency seemed more concerned with its image than Glass’ discrimination charge.

Glass later filed for damages, resulting in the settlement.

“We have agreed to this settlement and are prepared to take the necessary steps in order to comply with all the requirements outlined,” DPHHS Director Joan Miles said in a statement. “We Take the issue of discrimination very seriously and we intend to move forward in a positive direction.”

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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