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No USERRA Claim for Fired Vet With PTSD

A U.S. Army veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and who was fired as an x-ray technician after he made repeated threats to harm or kill other staff has not stated claims for discriminatory treatment under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act, says a Richmond U.S. District Court.

Plaintiff asserts three claims against defendant Bon Secours Richmond Health System: a failure to accommodate claim under the ADA; a “discrimination” claim under the ADA; and a “discrimination” claim under USERRA.

Defendant offered to meet with plaintiff to discuss adjusting his work schedule after he provided a doctor’s note stating he would benefit from having a set schedule, but scheduling problems prevented an immediate meeting. Employer’s request for a doctor’s note did not violate the ADA.

Plaintiff cannot show defendant’s stated reason for terminating plaintiff was pretext for an actual, discriminatory motive. Plaintiff provides no evidence that defendant made the decision to fire him on any basis other than the alleged threats to kill his supervisors, blow up the practice and shoot civilians from a “tall building.” The ADA does not require an employer to ignore such egregious misconduct by one of its employees.

Finally, there is absolutely no evidence that defendant based its decision to fire plaintiff – in any part – on his past military service. Employer knew of plaintiff’s military service before it hired him – twice. When plaintiff reported he suffered from PTSD, his supervisors called a meeting and asked him whether he needed any accommodations in his job related to PTSD. Staff reports showed an unhinged employee deliberately couching his threats in a military context: because a physician looked at plaintiff “like the insurgents in Iraq,” one such report read, the physician would suffer the same violent fate at plaintiff’s hands. It is perverse and illogical to argue that placing death threats within a military context provides – under any law – corresponding immunity from sanction. USERRA is intended to safeguard a service member’s job while that service members serves his country. Plaintiff’s claim, however, would treat that well-intentioned law as a “get out of jail free” card, absolving any misconduct that refers to or touches past military service.

Summary judgment for defendant.

Williamson v. Bon Secours Richmond Health System Inc. (Gibney) No. 3:13cv704, July 28, 2014; USDC at Richmond, Va. VLW 014-3-382, 14 pp.

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