89.1 WEMU

City Of Troy Scores Legal Victory In Disability Case

Dec 15, 2015

U.S. Court of Appeals Seal
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the city of Troy’s decision to place a police officer on unpaid leave following his brain surgery. The officer sued the city under the Americans with Disabilities Act. We have more from Rick Pluta.


Patrol Officer Todd Michael worked for the Troy Police Department since 1987.  He had three surgeries between in 2007 and 2009 to remove part of a non-cancerous brain tumor.  Following each surgery, Michael was placed on paid medical leave until he was ready to return to work.   However, during that time, Michael’s wife and superiors noticed aberrant behavior, including tagging along with a cocaine dealer on drug deals.  

Michael sued under the ADA after he was placed on unpaid administrative leave, saying he was discriminated against because of his disability.   Medical experts brought in by the city and Michael disagreed on his fitness to safely return to work.  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said the city acted properly because it was “objectively reasonable” to conclude there was no accommodation that could be made to safely return Officer Michael to patrol duty. 

From the majority opinion:  “Reasonable doctors of course can disagree—as they disagree here—as to whether a particular employee can safely perform the functions of his job. That is why the law requires only that the employer rely on an “objectively reasonable” opinion, rather than an opinion that is  correct.”  One judge dissented and said that sorting out that decision should have been the responsibility of a jury.  

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network. Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org