Disability Discrimination • Race Discrimination • Sex Discrimination • PHRA

Caldwell v. Nodiff, PICS Case No. 14-0322 (E.D. Pa Feb. 18, 2014) Dubois, J. (21 pages).

Caldwell, a member of the Philadelphia Police Department since 1997, alleged that the city and various members of the police department subjected her to discrimination and unconstitutional searches and seizures based on her race, gender, and disability in violation of Title VII the ADA, the PHRA and §1983. Defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint is granted in part and denied in part.

Caldwell was an African-American female who was promoted to detective and assigned to the South Detective Division in 2004. Sometime between 2006 and 2007 she was diagnosed with hypertension causing her to suffer dizziness, chest and muscle pain, muscle spasms, tunnel vision and swelling. Caldwell alleged that for the next four years, Caldwell’s supervisors, aware of her diagnosis, subjected her to, inter alia, harrassing behavior and a hostile work environment, refused her sick leave, demoted her, escorted her to a mental health facility against her will, gave her negative performance evaluations and random drug tests. When her hypertension prevented her from returning to work, she was placed on leave for one year pursuant to the FMLA.

In 2012 she filed complaints with the Fraternal Order of Police and the EEOC alleging discrimination and a hostile work environment. She received a right-to-sue letter in December 2012 and filed this action alleging discrimination on the basis of race, gender and disability, denial of a reasonable accommodation by assigning her to the day shift, retaliation for complaints about discrimination and a hostile work environment. She also alleged §1983 violations in the administration of unreasonable searches and seizures of her body, hair and urine.

Defendant’s’ motion to dismiss asserted that many of Caldwell’s allegations fell outside of the applicable 300 day limitations period, that she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies for many of her complaints and that her remaining claims failed to state a claim upon which relief ccould be granted.

Caldwell’s reasonable accommodation claim under the ADA was based on her reassignment to the day shift. However, her EEOC complaint failed to mention her reassignment to the day shift; her administrative remedies were not exhausted with respect to that claim and defendants’ motion to dismiss was granted as to the reasonable accommodation claim. The four drug tests and her hostile work environment claim were within the scope of her EEOC complaint and her administrative remedies were exhausted.

In addition, Caldwell stated plausible claims: (1) under Title VII and the ADA regarding the sick checking and drug testing to which she was subjected; (2) in her harrassment allegations, alleging hostile work environment; (3) alleging a causal connection between her complaints to the FOP and the EEOC and the excessive drug testing; and (4) against the officers who administered the drug tests. Caldwell’s assertions of liability against other officers who “failed to intervene” to prevent the tests were dismissed because those officers were entitled to qualified immunity.

However, Caldwell did not state a §1983 claim for unreasonable search and seizure against the city because the drug tests were not done in accordance with department directives and she does not show a pattern of violations of the directive. Thus, the §1983 claim against the city was dismissed.