ANXIETY DISORDER DISQUALIFIES POLICE OFFICER FROM JOB

ANXIETY DISORDER DISQUALIFIES POLICE OFFICER FROM JOB

Jason Jordan was hired as an officer by the Union City, Georgia Police Department in 2012. Early in his training supervisors became concerned with his lack of engagement, and Jordan explained that his feelings were consistent with anxiety attacks he had in the past. The City immediately relieved Jordan of duty, and a Captain stated that he would be fired if he did not resign and made comments regarding Jordan’s past anxiety. Jordan then resigned and filed a lawsuit under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) contending that he had been discriminated against on the basis of disability. He claimed that he was fired because the Captain perceived that he was disabled, not that he was actually disabled.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Jordan’s case. The Court held that the ADA did not protect all employees with disabilities but only “qualified individuals with a disability.” The Court stated that “qualified individuals with a disability” means “someone with a disability who with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job.” Essential functions of the police officer job include the ability to exercise sound, independent judgment in emergency or stressful situations and to react quickly and calmly in an emergency. The Court, viewing evidence in a light most favorable to Jordan, concluded that Jordan’s condition affected his ability to process and manage stress and dismissed his lawsuit. Jordan stated that his anxiety attacks were unpreventable and uncontrollable. The Court found that he was not prepared to respond to the stresses of being an officer and that his own testimony reflected that. For these reasons the Court found he was not a qualified individual under the ADA.

Jordan v. City of Union City, Georgia, 2016 WL 1127739 (11th Cir. 2016)

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