2d Circuit Affirms Dismissal of NYPD Trainee’s “Perceived As Disabled” Discrimination Claim

In Camoia v. City of New York, 787 Fed.Appx. 55, 57 (2d Cir. Dec. 13, 2019) (Summary Order), the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s perceived-as disability claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

In sum, plaintiff – a NYPD trainee – alleges that defendant terminated her based on its discovery of an undisclosed medical history of anxiety and panic attacks and her perceived disability as bipolar disorder.

The court summarized the operative law as follows (citations omitted):

To succeed on a disability discrimination claim under the ADA, a plaintiff must first make out a prima facie case. … A plaintiff establishes a prima facie case by showing that: (1) the defendant is covered by the ADA; (2) plaintiff suffers from or is regarded as suffering from a disability within the meaning of the ADA; (3) plaintiff was qualified to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation; and (4) plaintiff suffered an adverse employment action because of his disability or perceived disability.

The court held that plaintiff failed to show that she satisfied the second element, noting further:

[O]n summary judgment, the record leaves no doubt that the NYPD terminated Camoia based on, inter alia, her “significant history of anxiety and panic attacks.” The significance of this history is amplified by Camoia’s failure to disclose it in her application for employment as a NYPD officer despite being required to do so. Camoia concedes as much in her brief. She writes in her brief: “[I]t is respectfully submitted that … there was not a record upon which a reasonable fact-finder could … find” that “Defendants-Appellees perceived or diagnosed Plaintiff-Appellant to be bipolar.” Therefore, Camoia’s challenge to the District Court’s judgment in favor of the City on Camoia’s perceived disability discrimination claims under the ADA fails.

The court also held that plaintiff’s claim likewise failed under the New York State Human Rights Law, since the same standards applicable to plaintiff’s ADA claim apply to that statute as well.

Her claim under the (comparatively broader) New York City Human Rights Law likewise failed. While “[t]he NYCHRL requires only a showing that a perception of bipolar disorder caused some negative effect, not that it was the but-for cause of Camoia’s termination”, the court agreed with the court below “that the record contains no evidence that would allow a jury to conclude that the NYPD perceived that Camoia suffered from bipolar disorder or that the NYPD treated her less well—even only in part—because of such a perception.”

Share This: