Pregnancy Not A Disability Under The ADA

Barbara Reynolds began working as a police officer for the Suffield, Connecticut Police Department in March 2006. In July 2008, Reynolds requested, and was granted, a medical leave of absence.

On July 27, 2008, while Reynolds was on medical leave, Julia Marsh, Reynolds’s sister, called the police one evening while Reynolds was over at her home to report that Reynolds was out of control. When state troopers arrived, they reported that Reynolds was resistant to any assistance from the troopers, though she was eventually transported by ambulance to Windham Hospital.

The Connecticut State Police contacted Suffield Police Department after this incident to discuss Reynolds’s behavior. Reynolds was not disciplined for the incident, returned to work full-duty in November 2008, and was assigned to work evenings based on the seniority bid cycle.

On Friday, February 20, 2009, Reynolds called in sick to work, citing “female-related issues.” Reynolds testified that she thought she was pregnant, she was not feeling well, and she went to the doctor earlier in the day to get a pregnancy test. During what would have been her scheduled evening shift at work, Ms. Reynolds went out with her boyfriend for drinks and dinner. Later in the evening, after Reynolds and her boyfriend had left the restaurant, the boyfriend ended up calling 911 and reporting that Reynolds was “out of control.”

When the troopers arrived, they found that Reynolds was “visibly intoxicated.” Reynolds’s sister agreed to take her home for the night, and on her way to her sister’s car, Reynolds called the trooper who wrote up the incident report “a lousy f[ … ]ing cop” and a “f [ … ] ing asshole,” and extended her middle finger at him. Reynolds did not report this incident to the Suffield Police Department, but the Connecticut State Police did.

The Department began an Internal Affairs investigation, which resulted in Reynolds accepting a 30-day suspension related to the February 20, 2009 events and a negotiated “Last Chance Agreement” in which she agreed to release “any claims related to the investigation in this internal investigation.”

In short order, the Department began another internal affairs investigation, this time into allegations Reynolds misused a law enforcement database. Reynolds resigned in lieu of termination, and then sued the Department for, among other things, discriminating against her on the basis of her pregnancy, which she contended was a disability covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

A court dismissed Reynolds’ lawsuit. The Court found that “it is well settled that pregnancy is not a disability per se under the ADA. Every court to consider the question to date has ruled that ‘pregnancy’ and related medical conditions do not, absent unusual conditions, constitute a disability under the ADA. Thus, absent more, the simple fact that Reynolds was pregnant is insufficient to demonstrate that she was disabled, that is, had a ‘physical or mental impairment which substantially limited one or more of her major life activities’ within the meaning of the ADA.

“Even if the Court were to consider the caveat that ‘unusual conditions’ of pregnancy could satisfy the definition of ‘disability,’ Reynolds has not provided evidence of conditions giving rise to a physical impairment that substantially limited one or more of her major life activities. The record shows that her physician provided a note which stated that she was not to lift more than 20 pounds while at work, and in June, her physician provided another note which stated that Ms. Reynolds should work only during the day shifts.

“To be substantially limited in her ability to work, as Reynolds claims she was, she would need to show that she was precluded from more than one type of job, a specialized job, or a particular job of choice. The inability to perform a single, particular job does not constitute a substantial limitation in the major life activity of working. Neither of the doctor’s notes, nor Reynolds’s own testimony, suggest that she was restricted from performing a class of jobs or a broad range of jobs, only that she was precluded from some lifting associated with patrol duty, and the undisputed record shows that Reynolds was promptly taken off patrol duty as soon as this pregnancy limitation was made known to the Department.

“Because the record fails to show Reynolds’s argument that she could be found to be ‘disabled’ within the meaning of the ADA as a result of her pregnancy, the Department is entitled to summary judgment on these claims.”

Reynolds v. Town of Suffield, 2012 WL 3135896 (D. Conn. 2012).