Cop Terminated After Filing for ADA Accommodation
Amy Lynch wanted to come to work one hour later to help with a sleep disorder
After more than a year spent trying to get a reasonable accommodation to her work schedule with the Austin Police Department, a legally allowable modification to help her manage a chronic disorder, Detective Amy Lynch was officially terminated on Aug. 31.
Lynch was a rising star within the department for a decade after she joined in 1998. After she was promoted to detective and was diagnosed with narcolepsy, things went sideways: Once-glowing annual evaluations devolved into a final evaluation that deemed her work deficient. Although her final supervisor in the department's Organized Crime Division considered her work inadequate – she mishandled evidence, then-Sgt. Patrick Connor charged, and disobeyed an order to not "self-assign" cases, among other allegations – there was no formal investigation into her conduct, nor any discipline handed out. As such, her final termination comes without the possibility of appeal, as otherwise provided under civil service law. "I took this action because Police Detective/Corporal Lynch was determined to be not sufficiently physically fit to continue her duties," APD Chief Art Acevedo wrote. "This termination is not a disciplinary action [under civil service]. There is no right to appeal this decision to the Civil Service Commission, to an independent third party hearing examiner, or to district court, and it is not subject to the grievance process."
Lynch has sued the department, arguing that it discriminated against her based on her neurological condition after she requested, under the federal Americans With Disabilities Act and relevant Texas law, a reasonable accommodation to her work schedule – a one-hour-later start time, which would likely be temporary, according to a fit-for-duty evaluation provided by a city-retained doctor.
Acevedo's termination letter omits that detail, and describes the requested accommodation as unreasonable – "in light of the needs of the Department," he wrote – and concludes that to allow the requested accommodation would place an "undue hardship" on the department that could place her colleagues in jeopardy. "Lynch is not able to perform all of the essential functions of a police detective/corporal without an accommodation, no reasonable accommodation exists that accord [sic] with the Department's needs, and which would not place her fellow officers or citizens at risk," he wrote.
Lynch and her attorney strongly disagree and argue that the APD has not collaborated with Lynch to find a way to resolve the situation as is required under the ADA. Among the questions still open are whether APD "took seriously their duty under the ADA [and the Texas] Labor Code, to find an accommodation," Lynch's attorney Greg Placzek told the Chronicle last month. "Failure to engage in good faith in accommodating her is a violation of the ADA."
For more on Lynch's story, see "APD's Sleep Disorder," Aug. 24.
Jordan Smith, Fri., Aug. 24, 2012
Jordan Smith, Fri., June 7, 2013
Jordan Smith, Fri., May 31, 2013
Jordan Smith, Fri., Nov. 9, 2012
Josh Rosenblatt, Fri., Oct. 12, 2012
Josh Rosenblatt, Fri., Sept. 21, 2012
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