Former staffer with autism sues NYC councilman

- There is a debt of gratitude owed to those who extend opportunities. Michael Bistreich, 28, has autism and three college-level degrees. When he landed a job in the Bay Ridge office of New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile as a legislation and budget director it was a blessing.

But Michael says that after a short honeymoon phase, things got nasty. He says that he was locked in the basement and people threw stuff at him. He says Gentile, his chief of staff, and others, targeted him because of his autism, questioning repeatedly why he couldn't take medication to lessen the symptoms of his Asperger's syndrome. No such medication exists.

Brian Heller, Michael's attorney, says this case goes to the heart of why people with disabilities need to be protected in the workplace. He says this is a prime example of the challenges people with disabilities face not only getting a job but once they are there, as well.

After two and a half years on the job, Michael had his pay cut and was forced out. Tuesday, Michael and Heller filed a lawsuit against the councilman for $10 million.

In a statement the councilman said: "I take this matter very seriously and will review the complaint with legal counsel."

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