Former aircraft factory worker says termination over shy bladder violated ADA

By Jim Boyle | Dec 22, 2014

An ex-employee of a Coatesville, Pa.-based helicopter manufacturer says that his

termination violated the Americans with Disabilities Act after his diagnosed shy bladder syndrome prevented the plaintiff from producing a urine sample for a drug test, according to a discrimination suit filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Thomas Tompkins, of Gap, Pa., seeks relief in the form of lost wages and benefits, plus compensatory and punitive damages against Sikorksy Global Helicopters for its alleged failure to make reasonable accommodations for his ADA-protected condition.

According to the complaint, Tompkins worked for Sikorsky as an aircraft fabrication sheet metal worker starting in November 2006. The claim says that Tompkins was unable to produce a urine sample in a three-hour time period for a random drug test on Nov. 12, 2013, and was suspended.

The plaintiff says that shortly after the suspension, he went for a medical evaluation at the nearby VA hospital in Coatesville, Pa., where a psychiatrist diagnosed Tompkins with paruresis, or shy bladder syndrome. According to the complaint, paruresis qualifies as a disability under the ADA because it affects one major life activity. Tompkins says he was able to perform his normal work duties without accommodations, but needed an alternative to urine analysis for drug tests.

Tompkins submitted a letter documenting the diagnosis and request for reasonable accommodations to Sikorsky's human resources officer, who forwarded it to the medical review officer. According to the complaint, a test using analysis of hair follicles could be used as the alternative. The plaintiff underwent such a test in December 2013, which produced negative results for drug use in the previous three months.

The claim says that the defendants refused to engage in an interactive process to find an agreeable solution and chose to terminate Tompkins' employment. Tompkins claims this action maliciously violated the ADA because representatives at Sikorsky chose to fire the plaintiff in retaliation for the request for accommodations.

The plaintiff is represented by Samuel Dion of Dion & Goldberger in Philadelphia.

The federal case ID is 5:14-cv-07176-LS.

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