Teacher’s ADA Disability-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Survives Dismissal

In Gross v. Hatboro-Horsham School District, No. 23-0633, 2023 WL 4867423 (E.D.Pa. July 31, 2023), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s disability-based hostile work environment claim asserted under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

From the decision:

As noted, Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to plausibly allege that the discrimination he experienced was severe or pervasive. Defendant is, however, mistaken. In the complaint, Plaintiff has alleged numerous instances that interfered with his work performance. For example, he experienced threats of disciplinary action for unfounded accusations throughout his time at KVMS. Plaintiff further alleges he was subjected to an unwarranted disciplinary hearing without receiving any follow-up; was followed by a police cruiser at the behest of Principal Kircher and experienced repeated, unwarranted classroom disruptions from Osborne; was falsely accused of having drugs on school property; and was falsely accused of using a racial slur. See Hargrave v. Cnty. of Atl., 262 F. Supp. 2d 393, 404–07 (D.N.J. 2003) (noting false accusations were sufficient to support the EEOC finding discrimination for the complainant at the pre-litigation administrative exhaustion stage). Taking all of these allegations as true, this Court finds that Plaintiff has plausibly alleged facts sufficient to show that the discrimination he suffered was severe for purposes of his hostile work environment claims under the ADA. Likewise, Plaintiff has plausibly alleged facts sufficient to show that the discrimination was pervasive, as he alleges disparaging treatment by his supervisors and colleagues over a period of several years that made evident to Plaintiff that he was not a welcome member of KVMS.

Defendant also argues that Plaintiff has failed to allege facts to show that he was subjected to intentional discrimination because of his disability. This Court disagrees. In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he suffered multiple instances of discrimination over the course of his tenure at KVMS due to his disability. As discussed supra, Plaintiff has alleged facts sufficient to show discriminatory actions and conduct against and toward him that nondisabled teachers did not experience. This conduct commenced when Plaintiff returned to work from his first medical leave until the time of his final, involuntary medical leave. As pleaded, Plaintiff was falsely accused of various employment infractions on multiple occasions, wrongfully subjected to a disciplinary hearing, demeaned by Principal Kircher, and followed by the police in the parking lot at the behest of someone at KVMS—all after Kircher became aware of and commented about Plaintiff’s medical conditions.

Based on this, the court held that the plaintiff has sufficiently alleged facts to support his claim that he was subjected to intentional discrimination, and, accordingly denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s ADA hostile work environment claim.

Share This: