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Indefinite Leave Of Absence Not A Reasonable Accommodation

Wayne Anderson was a firefighter for the City of Coon Rapids, Minnesota. In 2005, Anderson began experiencing symptoms of endocarditis, a heart infection. He was diagnosed in May 2006, and he continues to be monitored for the condition. In 2011, Anderson saw a neurologist for complaints regarding fatigue, gait instability, and muscle weakness. The neurologist advised that Anderson could not return to work until November 25, 2011. On November…

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‘Cantankerous’ Officer Loses ADA Claims

Matthew Weaving, who worked for the Hillsboro Police Department in Oregon, was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder when he was a child. During the job application process, Weaving disclosed what he described as the “intermittent interpersonal communication issues” he experienced in a prior job as a police officer at the Beaverton Police Department. The Hillsboro Police Department offered Weaving provisional employment, contingent upon passing a psychological evaluation. During…

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How The ADA And FMLA Interact In The Fitness-For-Duty Process

Susan White is employed as a Senior District Attorney Investigator with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office (DA). Her job includes personally serving arrest warrants, making arrests, interrogating suspects, and booking prisoners, and requires police officer certification. Beginning in late 2009, around the time of the death of her brother-in-law, White began experiencing emotional difficulties. She was observed acting erratically in the workplace, with very high emotional highs…

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Indefinite Leave Not A ‘Reasonable’ Accommodation

Under both the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, an employer has the obligation to reasonably accommodate an employee’s disability. From time to time, questions have arisen as to the circumstances under which a medical leave of absence is a reasonable accommodation that must be granted by an employer. A recent case from Kentucky involved Erno Nandori, a police officer with the City of Bridgeport….

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Driving Apparatus Not Necessarily Essential Function For Firefighter

Anthony Rorrer worked as a firefighter for the City of Stow, Ohio from May of 1999 until July of 2008. On July 4, 2008, Rorrer injured his right eye in a bottle-rocket accident unrelated to his work as a firefighter, losing all vision in his right eye as a result. Rorrer’s surgeon later cleared Rorrer to return to work without restriction. After examining Rorrer for approximately 15 minutes, a…

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Temporary Impairments Can Be Covered By ADA

It has long been thought that the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) provides protection only to employees with permanent injuries. In a significant private sector case, the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upended that paradigm, and found that the ADA could apply also to temporary impairments. The case involved Carl Summers, a senior analyst for the Altarum Institute, a government contractor with an office in Alexandria, Virginia. Summers’s…

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Medical Privacy Claim Under ADA Requires Proof Of Damages

Cheryl Russell was a dispatcher with the City of Mobile, Alabama Police Department. Russell sued the City, claiming that it engaged in an improper medical inquiry in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Under the ADA, an employer can only obtain medical information about an employee if it has reasons that are “job related and consistent with business necessity.” An appeals court found that even if…

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$680K ADA Judgment Upheld For Officer

Mickel Hoback was a police officer with the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee. After starting work for the City, Hoback enlisted in the military. He served in Iraq for over a year, returning to the Department in late November 2005. At some point after returning from Iraq, Hoback was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Hoback received counseling and treatment, including psychotropic medication, from the Veterans Administration. On April 14, 2009,…

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Even In ADA Lawsuit, State Not Entitled To See Trooper’s Psychiatric Records

Scott Butler, a trooper with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, sued the State under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Butler claimed that the State regarded him as disabled in violation of the ADA by requiring him to submit to an excessive psychiatric fitness-for-duty evaluation, denying him overtime opportunities and placing him on involuntary leave. Butler claimed the Department based its decisions on perceived impairments –…

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Sergeant Loses ADA Lawsuit Against Sheriff’s Office

Randal Fornes was a sergeant with the Osceola County, Florida Sheriff’s Department. Fornes brought a lawsuit against the County, alleging that it violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) in its treatment of him. In order to be covered by the ADA, an employee must show that (1) he or she has a disability, (2) he or she is a “qualified individual,” that is, able to perform the essential…

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Personnel Files Of Other Employees Can Be Redacted, But Not Sealed

Richelle Johnson was a police officer for the City of Baltimore, Maryland. Johnson retired, and then brought a lawsuit against the City, claiming that her retirement was forced, and that the City had violated the Americans With Disabilities Act in its treatment of her. One of Johnson’s claims was that six non-disabled officers had been treated differently than her. When the City filed a motion to dismiss Johnson’s lawsuit,…

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The Revitalized ADA: A Case In Point

One could hardly ask for a better example of the revitalized Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) than the case of Troy Franklin, a corrections officer with the City of Slidell, Louisiana. Though the case has far to go – and so far Franklin has chosen to act as his own lawyer – an initial decision by a court shows the extent to which a 2008 amendment to the ADA…

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Leave Of Absence Can Be ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ Under ADA

Charles Kesecker was a police officer for the Marin Community College District in California. When Kesecker was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, the District required him to submit to a fitness-for-duty evaluation. After an examination, a doctor advised the District that Kesecker was not psychologically fit for duty as a police officer and that it was unlikely that Kesecker would be fit for duty “in the near term.” Kesecker…

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How The ADA Has Expanded: A Case In Point

Mickel Hoback was a police officer with the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 2002, Hoback took a brief leave from the Department to enter basic training for the United States Army. Following basic training, Hoback returned to the Department until June 22, 2004, when his National Guard unit was activated and deployed to Iraq. Hoback served in Iraq until being honorably discharged on November 27, 2005. In February 2006,…

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Court Denies Officer’s Request For 22 Years Of ‘Front Pay’

On May 25, 2012, a jury found that Matthew Weaving, a sergeant with the Hillsboro, Oregon Police Department, had a disability of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) under the Americans with Disabilities Act and parallel Oregon law. In addition, the jury found that the City failed to reasonably accommodate Weaving’s ADHD and that Weaving was discharged because he had ADHD. Accordingly, the jury awarded Weaving $75,000 in compensatory damages….

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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…

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Requiring Employees To Explain Health-Related Absences May Be Unlawful

A recent decision from a federal court in California, E.E.O.C. v. Dillard’s, Inc., calls into question the legality under the Americans With Disability Act of routine requests for “doctor’s notes” to justify sick leave use. Background Corinna Scott, an employee at one of Dillard’s stores, was absent from work from May 29 to June 3, 2006 for health-related reasons. To excuse her absence, Scott gave the assistant store manager…

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Obese Corrections Officer Loses ADA Claim

For five months in 2006, Charles Lescoe was a corrections officer for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in Frackville. At the time of his employment and resignation, Lescoe weighed approximately 300 pounds and was 5’ 7” tall. To obtain employment at the DOC, Lescoe passed a number of medical and physical tests. He also participated in a five-week long training academy operated by the DOC, which instructed classes about…

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Detention Deputy Loses ADHD Disability Claim

James Johnson was a detention deputy for the Sedgwick County, Kansas Sheriff’s Department. When the County terminated him for repeatedly falling asleep at work, he filed a lawsuit under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), contending that he was illegally fired for his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A federal court trial judge rejected Johnson’s lawsuit, finding he had failed to establish that he had a “disability” as defined by…

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Q & A

From Ohio Question: Our contract states that all police officers will be full-time. Can the city (management) implement part time officers without negotiating because of budget problems? Answer: The general rule is that the implementation of part-time police jobs is a mandatory subject for bargaining, and cannot be unilaterally implemented without first negotiating with the labor organization. You should check with local counsel to determine whether Ohio follows that…

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New ADAAA Regs: The Untold Story

As most people in the Human Resources and employment law worlds are aware, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued its final rule interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). The ADAAA, which took effect in January 2009, was enacted toward the end of the administration of George W. Bush, with the support of disability rights advocates as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and…

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New Appeals Court Decision Sets Up Conflict In Law Applicable To Sick Leave Verification

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has a fairly broad medical privacy provision. The ADA states that an employer “shall not require a medical examination and shall not make inquiries of an employee as to whether such employee is an individual with a disability or as to the nature or severity of the disability, unless such examination or inquiry is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity.”…

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Officer’s Night Blindness Triggers ADA Claim

Ryan Lougheed was a patrol officer with the Village of Mundelein, Illinois. Lougheed’s field training officer (FTO) observed that during the night shift, Lougheed had trouble seeing the keys on the mobile data terminal’s keyboard in his vehicle as well as difficulty seeing numbers and letters on license plates. The FTO informed Lougheed that he may need glasses and suggested he get his eyes checked. An optometrist determined that…

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City Not Required By ADA To Offer Light-Duty Accommodation To Fire Investigator

Public safety employees have been notably unsuccessful in convincing courts that their employers should accommodate disabilities by assigning them light-duty work. As learned by Gary Cremeens, a Fire Investigator for the City of Montgomery, Alabama, courts routinely hold that employers have no obligation under the Americans With Disabilities Act to accommodate disabilities that interfere with the employee’s ability to perform the core functions of the job. Cremeens worked off…

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Fitness For Duty Examinations And The ADA

A recent case from a federal court of appeals examined the issue of how the Americans With Disabilities Act applies when a public safety employer requires one of its employees to submit to a fitness-for-duty examination. The case involved Charlene Wisbey, a dispatcher for the City of Lincoln, Nebraska. During January and February of 2007, Wisbey utilized a significant amount of sick leave due to an upper respiratory infection….

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