IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Plaintiff,

v.

THE CITY OF NEW ALBANY, INDIANA,

Defendant.

 

 

Civil Action No 4:17-cv-185

 

COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR A JURY TRIAL

    NOW COMES Plaintiff, United States of America, and respectfully alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States (hereinafter “Plaintiff”), against the City of New Albany, Indiana (hereinafter “New Albany” or “Defendant”), to enforce the statutory and regulatory provisions of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq., which incorporate, through 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a), the powers, remedies, and procedures set forth in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.

Jurisdiction and Venue

  1. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-5(f), and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345. 
  2. This Court has authority to grant a declaratory judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202, and authority to grant equitable relief and monetary damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 12117.
  3. Venue is proper in this district under 28 U.S.C. § 1391.

Parties

  1. Plaintiff is the United States of America.
  2. Defendant is the City of New Albany, Indiana.  New Albany is a political subdivision of the State of Indiana.  The City of New Albany Police Department and Merit Commission are agencies of the City of New Albany.
  3. Defendant is a person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12111(7) and 42 U.S.C. 2000e(a).
  4. Defendant is an employer within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §§ ;12111(5), and a covered entity within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12111(2) and 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2

Facts

  1. On March 14, 2014, the complainant filed a timely charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), alleging that Defendant discriminated against him in violation of the ADA based on the Defendant’s unlawful disclosure of his confidential medical information.
  2. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5, incorporated by reference in 42 U.S.C. §12117(a), the EEOC investigated the complainant’s charge and found reasonable cause to believe that Defendant discriminated against him in violation of the ADA.  After the EEOC’s conciliation efforts failed, the EEOC referred the matter to the United States Department of Justice.
  3. The complainant’s charge alleged that on or around October 3, 2013, Defendant disclosed to the public his confidential medical information, including details concerning the nature of his disability and his medications, which Defendant had obtained through employment-related medical examinations and inquiries. 
  4. The complainant has served as a Patrol Officer for the Defendant since May 2005.
  5. In May 2012, the complainant went on leave from work. 
  6. In October 2012, the New Albany Chief of Police Sherri Knight (“Chief Knight”) informed the complainant that she needed a diagnosis to explain his long absence. 
  7. On October 3, 2012, the complainant provided a letter from his doctor identifying his diagnoses and approving him to return to duty on October 8, 2012.  
  8. Based on the doctor’s letter, Chief Knight requested that the New Albany Merit Commission, which has sole authority to hire and fire Patrol Officers, terminate the complainant.  The Merit Commission considered the request and ordered the complainant to undergo medical evaluations by two different health care professionals.
  9. In June 2013, Chief Knight submitted three formal written charges to the Merit Commission to request the complainant’s termination.  The charges included confidential medical information, including treatment and medication.
  10. On October 3, 2013, the Merit Commission held a public meeting and voted to reinstate the complainant immediately.  Patrol Officers, the public, and the local press were in attendance.
  11. After the Merit Commission voted to reinstate the complainant, Chief Knight read a statement at the public hearing that referenced the complainant’s mental health evaluation, treatment and medications.
  12. The City’s attorney, Laurie Kemp, spoke to the press at the conclusion of this public meeting and referenced the complainant’s mental health condition and concerns about his fitness for duty as an officer.
  13. The Merit Commission’s attorney provided a local news reporter with the charging documents, which included details regarding the complainant’s disability, prescription medications, medical care, and psychological evaluations. 
  14. During the days that followed, local press including the local newspaper and the evening news featured the complainant’s story, restating details provided in the charging documents.
  15. The complainant suffered emotional distress, including depression and loss of sleep, as a result of the public disclosure of his medical information.

CAUSE OF ACTION

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act

  1. The allegations of the foregoing paragraphs are hereby re-alleged and incorporated herein by reference.
  2. Title I of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12111, et seq., and its implementing regulation, 29 C.F.R. Part 1630, permits covered employers, such as Defendant, to make inquiries into the ability of an employee to perform job-related functions and make inquiries into the nature and severity of the employee’s disability, so long as the examination is job-related and consistent with business necessity.  42 U.S.C. §§ 12112(d)(4)(A)–(B); 29 C.F.R. § 1630.14(c). 
  3. Information obtained as a result of such an examination or inquiry regarding the medical condition or history of any employee must be treated as a confidential medical record.  42 U.S.C. §§ 12112(d)(4)(C), (d)(3)(B); 29 C.F.R. § 1630.14(c)(1). 
  4. Confidential medical information may be disclosed in three instances: (1) to inform supervisors or managers regarding necessary restrictions on the work of the employee and necessary accommodations, (2) to medical personnel when emergency treatment is required, and (3) to government officials investigating compliance with this regulation.  42 U.S.C. §§ 12112(d)(4)(C), (d)(3)(B); 29 C.F.R. § 1630.14(c)(1).  None of these exceptions apply here. 
  5. Defendant failed to keep confidential the complainant’s medical information, which Defendant had obtained through employment-related medical examinations and inquiries.  42 U.S.C. §§ 12112(d)(4)(C), (d)(3)(B); 29 C.F.R. § 1630.14(c)(1).
  6. Defendant’s conduct as described in this Complaint constitutes discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of Title I of ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12111, et seq., and its implementing regulation, 29 C.F.R. Part 1630.  
  7. As a result of Defendant’s discriminatory conduct, the complainant suffered and continues to suffer damages.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

    WHEREFORE, the United States prays that this Court:

  1. Grant judgment in favor of the United States and declare that Defendant has violated Title I of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq., and its accompanying regulation;
  2. Require Defendant to revise its policies, practices, and procedures so as to bring its employment practices into compliance with Title I of the ADA and its accompanying regulation, including but not limited to Police Department and Merit Commission policies and procedures for keeping confidential employees' medical information;
  3. Order Defendant to train Police Department and Merit Commission staff and representatives involved in personnel decisions or who have access to employees' confidential medical information regarding the confidentiality requirements of the ADA;
  4. Order Defendant to review any future application by the complainant for promotion without unlawful consideration of his disability, medical history, EEOC Charge, or complaint of discrimination;
  5. Award the complainant compensatory damages, including damages for pain and suffering, for injuries suffered as a result of Defendant's failure to comply with the requirements of Title I of the ADA pursuant to and within the statutory limitations of Section 102 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981a; and
  6. Order such other appropriate relief as the interests of justice require.

JOSH J. MINKLER
United States Attorney
Southern District of Indiana

/s/ Kelly Rota
KELLY ROTA
Assistant United States Attorney
United States Attorney's Office
Southern District of Indiana
10 West Market Street, Suite 2100
Indianapolis, IN 46204-3048
Telephone: (317) 226-6333

/s/ John M. Gore
JOHN M. GORE
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

REBECCA B. BOND
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

 

/s/ Anne Raish
ANNE RAISH
Acting Chief
Disability Rights Section

KATHLEEN P. WOLFE
Special Litigation Counsel
AMANDA MAISELS
Deputy Chief

/s/ Christine Kim
CHRISTINE KIM
Trial Attorney
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW-NYA
Washington, D.C. 20530
Telephone: (202) 305-0043
Facsimile:  (202) 307-1197