LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A former public safety officer for USC has been awarded $1.87 million in his age discrimination lawsuit against the school.
Michael Leach, who had worked for the university for 16 years until the age of 73, filed suit against the school after he was let go in February 2012.
City News Service reports court documents claimed Leach was fired for abandoning his post a month prior by falling asleep on duty. His attorneys maintained he was on a break at the time and argued that USC's records showed other younger officers in Leach's position were given warnings for similar alleged acts of misconduct.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury voted in Leach's favor Thursday following two days of deliberation.
CNS reports defense attorneys denied any wrongdoing.
"USC acted in what it believed was in the best interest of its constituents and after a thorough investigation terminated Mr. Leach," court documents state.
"For those overseeing campus security, sleeping in publicly accessible areas can create security risks and, perhaps worse, an appearance that the campus does not take safety or security seriously."
However, jurors also determined university officials had acted with malice. The decision launches another trial scheduled to begin on Monday to decide if Leach will also be awarded punitive damages.
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