Rejected police candidate wins suit against Baldwin

Tuesday, March 07, 2006 By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Bethel Park man won a $500,000 jury verdict against Baldwin Borough this afternoon in federal court for a lawsuit he filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

H. Timothy S. Kreger, 38, who was born with a deformed left hand and had previously been treated for alcoholism, applied to become a police officer with Baldwin Borough in February 2000. He had previously worked as an officer in the City of Pittsburgh and Homestead.

Mr. Kreger went through the entire hiring process and was ranked second out of six potential candidates. The borough eventually hired Nos. 1, 3 and 4, said Samuel J. Cordes, Mr. Kreger's attorney.

Initially, Mr. Kreger was told he wasn't hired because he didn't interview well. However, he later learned that a member of the Baldwin Civil Service Commission told police Chief Christopher Kelly, "You're not going to hire that drunk and cripple," Mr. Cordes said.

Mr. Kreger filed his lawsuit in June 2005, claiming he was discriminated against because of disability. The trial began yesterday before U.S. District Court Judge Arthur J. Schwab, and the jury deliberated about two hours before returning with a verdict about 3 p.m.

Mr. Kreger's hand is missing two fingers and another finger is severely malformed. Despite that, he passed his physical agility test for the borough and all other requirements of the job.

"It's a disability that Tim has learned to overcome," said Mr. Cordes.

Mr. Kreger will also likely be awarded attorney fees, and he expects to file a motion with Judge Schwab requiring Baldwin to hire him as a police officer.

He is currently working as a part-time officer in West Homestead.