Erstad Honored By New Coworkers And Employer
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 13, 2002
MADISON, WISCONSIN--Last week, the employees of Vitaplus honored one of their own, Steve Erstad, for his hard work and enthusiasm over the past year.
"(This) is the award presented to the employee who consistently displays enthusiasm everyday that they come to Vitaplus, and brightens the day of others around him," said Jeff Winkler, production leader for the animal feed supply company. "The person who was voted by all the Vitaplus employees to win that award this year is Steve Erstad!"
"I was surprised," Erstad told WISC-TV. "It was a good surprise."
It appears he has finally found a workplace that appreciates and values him.
About two years ago, Erstad was fired from his custodial job at CUNA Mutual -- a job he had held for 20 years. The company said Erstad, who has a developmental disability, was a safety threat to coworkers. The firing had to do with an incident in which Erstad, frustrated by changes in his shift, began pounding his fist into his open hand. When Erstad's boss disagreed with the company's decision, he lost his job, too.
Erstad sued CUNA Mutual, claiming it discriminated against him because of his disability. Erstad's former boss joined the suit.
In February of this year, the company settled out of court with Erstad and his former boss. The amount and terms of the settlement are secret.
As part of the employee award at Vitaplus, Erstad received a gold watch and his name will appear on a large plaque in the front of the lobby.