Jennifer Pillsbury is political reporter for the Centralia Herald, the local newspaper for the town of Centralia, Kentucky, with approximately 70 journalistic, editorial, and administrative staff, and has worked in that capacity since graduating Columbia Journalism School in 2010. As part of her job, she attends candidate political rallies and state and national party conventions. She also travels with candidates as part of the press pool in presidential and gubernatorial election years and drives the news van for the Centralia Herald’s webcast news program, News Now with the Centralia Herald. The van can accommodate 15 crew and equipment for live transmission. In non-election years, she is assigned to the public corruption beat.
Ms. Pillsbury enjoys her job; however, for the past 8 months she has had irrepressible urges to sleep, even in the middle of raucous campaign rallies, no matter how much sleep she has gotten the night before. Her editor, Leonardo Boyardi, has expressed concern about the diminishing quality of her articles and recent failures to meet urgent editorial deadlines. Her uncle, Benjamin Rice, started doing research on the Internet after his niece had brought up this problem in conversation, and suggested she have a neurological consult. Based on a lab-based polysomnography, along with direct in-office observation, Dr. Kathleen Butterworth made a diagnosis of narcolepsy.
Dr. Butterworth recommended an altered work schedule, breaks every hour, and prescribed methylphenidate for alertness. She also advised Ms. Pillsbury to cut back on travel across time zones. Butterworth provided Jennifer with a letter for Boyardi outlining these recommendations, which were relayed to the Director of Staff, Jim Dean.
Mr. Dean denied these requests, finding the requested accommodations unreasonable. Dean claims that the accommodations sought are unreasonable given Pillsbury’s job responsibilities and scope of coverage, and that they pose a safety hazard since she is one of only three people qualified under Centralia law to drive the news van.
The Centralia Herald operates a month-long summer journalism sleep-away camp for high school students interested in the field. Admission is competitive and based on an essay competition judged by the Editorial Board. Michael Frankenberry, a 17-year-old high school junior, applies for and is accepted into the program. The Herald accordingly sent Michael a medical clearance form, on which students are asked about any special medical needs they may have and for a list of any medications they are taking. On that form, Mary Frankenberry, Michael’s mother, disclosed that her son takes haloperidol to control verbal and motor tics associated with Tourette’s syndrome.
Two weeks after sending the form in, Michael received a certified letter in the mail stating that his offer of admission to the camp was withdrawn on the grounds that the tics would be disruptive to other students in the program. The letter did not provide any appeal rights.
I) Does Ms. Pillsbury have a covered disability?
II) Assuming Ms. Pillsbury has a covered disability, discuss the administrative process involved in stating her claim.
III) Discuss the relative merit of the substance of Ms. Pillsbury’s likely claims, with reference to any defenses likely to be raised by the Centralia Herald.
IV) Discuss the relative merit of any potential claim against the Herald by the Frankenberrys under the ADA.
*SOURCES CAN ONLY BE FROM THE ONES PROVIDED
*Files attached (file section) as well as the titles & websites listed below:
Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)(https://www.eeoc.gov/statutes/titles-i-and-v-americans-disabilities-act-1990-ada)
EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship (https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/enforcement-guidance-reasonable-accommodation-and-undue-hardship-under-ada)
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