A group of former Washington, D.C. officers with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) have filed a lawsuit, claiming that they were forced to retire due to mental or physical disorders caused by their job, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to the lawsuit, the four police officers were asked by the MPD to retire earlier than normal, on the grounds that they couldn’t perform their job.
Malachi Malik, one of the plaintiffs, say that he underwent a heart surgery in September 2017 and despite fully recovering from the surgery and a previous back injury that occurred while on duty, the department involuntarily retired him citing disability in June 2018. MPD allegedly “refused to accommodate Mr. Malik by restructuring his position, authorizing additional leave, or permitting him to continue in a limited duty position.”
Steve Pappas, who says he was assigned to a limited-duty position after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure by his physician in 2013, accuses MPD of not giving him a civilian position within the department which he applied for, even though he was qualified for it.
“Per MPD policy, after 172 work days in limited-duty status, Mr. Pappas was required to appear before the Police and Firefighters Retirement Relief Board for disability Retirement,” the lawsuit says, adding that Pappas’s doctor’s report had stated that Pappas was likely to normalize within six months.
Tawana Lindsay, who had a foot and ankle surgery in 2015 while employed by MPD, went back to her limited duty post after the surgery. Lindsay’s physician reported that she was expected to fully recover within six to 12 months, MPD denied her request for delaying the disability retirement consideration hearing.
“MPD involuntarily retired Ms. Lindsay at the end of the 172-day limit for sick leave and limited duty assignment on December 7, 2015, just two months before she was expected to be able to return to full duty,” according to the lawsuit.
Lindsay additionally asserts that the department did not make any efforts to reassign her to any vacant position fitting for her.
Nichole Mathies also suffered an ankle injury while on duty at MPD in 2014. She had two surgeries, one in the same year and one in 2015. She accuses MPD not offering her a light duty or an accommodation after both surgeries and retiring her in October 2015, which was the end of the 172-day limit, even though her doctors expected “that she would be able to perform the full scope of her duties six to 12 months after a third surgery.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990 and prohibits discrimination based on disability.