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Public employee fights for his rights under ADA

In today's economic climate, it can seem pretty hard to get a job or hang onto a job. This can be especially true for government employees. There are a number of reasons why a government employee could lose their job when most work on an "at-will" basis. However, no one in Denver or beyond would expect a government entity to engage in discrimination against an employee with a disability, especially when the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act have become so well known to most employers. But, that is what one government employee, a police officer, is alleging in his lawsuit against his former employer.

According to reports, this police officer has a stuttering problem. The 11-year veteran of the police force had been a detective since 2007, and apparently, he was quite good at his job. However, in 2011 he was re-assigned to road-patrol duty, a position which put this officer in one of the worst possible situations for his disability. He claims that road-patrol requires quick verbal responses and verbal orders, something he struggles with due to his stuttering problem. Further, he is apparently claiming that the move was deliberate on the part of his employers in an attempt to get him to voluntarily quit the force.

This officer has taken legal action, claiming that the police department failed to provide the "reasonable accommodations" that the ADA requires. He says accommodations could have been as simple as leaving him in his detective assignment. However, the police department has responded that the officer knew when he was assigned to be a detective that it was part of a four-year rotation.

When an employer discriminates against an employee based on their disability, that employee is entitled to take action under the protections afforded by the ADA. In this case, the officer is seeking approximately $2.5 million, of which $2 million is in punitive damages.

Source: Cincinnati.com, "Stuttering officer being fired," Janice Morse, Dec. 29, 2012

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