Does Filing a Lawsuit Make Me Mentally Unfit to Hold a Job?

Many New York employers may try to justify illegal job discrimination on the grounds that a job applicant is physically or mentally unfit for the position. While some types of medical testing may be permissible depending on the nature and requirements of a given job, when an employer uses such tests as a cover for discriminatory motives–e.g., not hiring someone because they are African-American, female, gay, et al.–that is plainly illegal. The applicant has the right to seek damages under federal, New York State, and New York City laws.

NYPD Faces New Lawsuit Over Refusal to Rehire Ex-Police Officer

The Appellate Division, First Department. The plaintiff in this case is actually a former NYPD officer who has spent the past nine years trying to get his job back. The plaintiff alleges that the Department refused to reinstate him due to his sexual orientation and then claimed it was because he was psychologically unfit for the job.

The plaintiff previously served as an NYPD officer from 2000 to 2009. He left the Department in early 2009 to take a similar position in California. Several months later he returned to New York City and sought reinstatement with the NYPD. At that time he took and passed a mandatory psychological examination.

Nevertheless, the NYPD placed the plaintiff's application under “psychological review,” and nearly a year later declared him unfit for duty. The Department's main reason for this was that during his prior NYPD tenure, the plaintiff sued the City for violations of state and local human rights laws. This lawsuit resulted in a financial settlement. According to the NYPD, the fact that the plaintiff “relied chiefly on litigation to resolve issues” was proof that he demonstrated “poor stress tolerance” and therefore was not suited to work as a police officer.

Undermining the NYPD's assessment, the plaintiff pointed to the fact he had been offered several other law enforcement positions, including one with the City's Department of Corrections, where he currently works, without any questions arising about his psychological fitness.

The plaintiff subsequently filed a new lawsuit against the City for illegal employment discrimination. Although a Manhattan Supreme Court judge dismissed the complaint, the First Department ruled the plaintiff's claims had merit and returned the case for trial. The Appellate Division said the plaintiff spelled out a plausible case for retaliation. Furthermore, this new lawsuit was not barred by the terms of his prior financial settlement, as they involve acts that had not yet occurred yet, i.e. the denial of his reinstatement to the NYPD.

Speak With a New York City Employment Discrimination Lawyer Today

There are legitimate medical reasons for declining to hire a job applicant. Using a medical evaluation as a pretext for retaliation against an employee or job applicant who asserted his or her legally protected rights in court is not one of them. If you have sustained any kind of illegal discrimination or retaliation in the hiring process and need to speak with a qualified New York employment attorney about your options, contact the offices of Nisar Law Group, P.C., today.