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Jury awards $1.14M in suit against state agency

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis jury has awarded $1.14 million to a former employee of the Missouri Department of Public Safety who accused the department of age discrimination.

The St. Louis Circuit Court jury awarded $1.14 million on Thursday to Timothy Barber, 61, who worked for the state Department of Public Safety for nearly 30 years before he was let go in November 2009, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/P4kHd6 ).

Barber, a senior agent in the department's Division of Alcohol & Tobacco Control, was told he was laid off because of budget concerns. Two other more senior special agents were also let go, while the four youngest special agents in the office, who had less seniority, did not lose their jobs.

Barber's lawyers, Jerome Dobson and Brian Love, said that ran counter to years of prior practice in which layoffs were made in reverse order of time served with the department.

Dobson said the department eventually offered Barber his job back under the condition that he release the department from liability in his discrimination claim. But Barber refused.

Barber's lawyers asked the jury to award Barber three years' worth of lost compensation, minus what he gets in retirement money. Barber made about $56,000 a year. The jury awarded him $540,000 in actual damages and $600,000 in punitive damages.

"We're enormously gratified with the verdict," Dobson said.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, which represented the state agency, declined comment.

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