Police Officer’s Disclosure of Adderall Prescription Insufficient to Support Disability Discrimination Claim
A police officer who disclosed his Adderall prescription to his supervisor was unable to state a claim for discrimination based on an actual or perceived disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Pennsylvania Human Rights Act. Jeannot v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, et al, Case No. 18-1977 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 2, 2018).
The officer’s lawsuit stemmed from his termination following a reasonable suspicion drug test. The officer, who worked the night shift, filled an Adderall prescription at a drugstore during his shift on the night in question. He claimed that his partner secretly recorded him during a response to a domestic disturbance call, and was away from the patrol car speaking on the phone for a significant amount of time. The officer subsequently was required to return to police headquarters. When he arrived, he was told to go home early.
The following day, the officer’s supervisor visited his home and informed the officer that he was under investigation and that he was required to undergo reasonable suspicion drug testing. The housing authority terminated the officer’s employment within a few weeks of the test. The officer claimed that he disclosed his Adderall prescription to his supervisor during his employment, and that he had a note from his doctor stating that his use of Adderall would not impact his ability to perform his job duties.
The lawsuit alleged that the housing authority discriminated against the officer based on his disability, regarded him as disabled, failed to accommodate his disability, and retaliated against him. The housing authority moved to dismiss the officer’s ADA and PHRA claims for failure to state a claim.
The “lynch pin” of the officer’s “regarded as” claim, was that his supervisor had knowledge of his Adderall prescription. The court first highlighted several cases holding that an employer’s knowledge of an impairment alone is insufficient to establish a “regarded as” claim. The court reasoned, “If an employer’s knowledge of an impairment is insufficient on its own to demonstrate it regarded the employee as disabled, then surely knowledge an employee is taking medication is insufficient as well. To conclude otherwise would allow any individual who provides notice to his employer that he is taking a particular medication, without any additional factual allegations, to establish a prima facie case of regarded as disability discrimination.” Because the employee failed to allege any facts regarding how the officer’s supervisors reacted to or perceived him, the court dismissed the “regarded as” claim without prejudice.
The court also determined that the complaint did not allege sufficient facts to establish the existence of an actual disability. Although the officer claimed he was prescribed Adderall to help him maintain focus and concentration, he did not affirmatively state that he had any problems with focus or concentration. The court also held that the officer’s failure to allege a disability was fatal to his failure to accommodate claim. The officer’s retaliation failed, because he did not allege any facts to show that he engaged in protected activity prior to his termination.