Damned If You Do, Sued If You Don’t.

Emily Kysel was a project development analyst with the Department of Code Enforcement for the City of Indianapolis.

Normally Krysel would be one of the billions of people we would not write about here at Raised on Hoecakes, but Krysel is in the news these days due to a lawsuit she has filed against the city. It is the type of lawsuit that people have feared and knew would come to pass eventually, and it is here now.

Krysel is allergic to paprika – the spice. According to the lawsuit, Krysel is so allergic to paprika that exposure to it can result in

“severe allergic anaphylactic reactions. Each exposure to paprika makes the next allergic reaction more severe.”

Under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), the city worked with her to eliminate paprika in the workplace. Co-workers were informed not to bring paprika in foods. Sandwiches and other foods in vending machines were removed if they were found to have the spice. The city sought expert advice and found that a trained service dog could help detect paprika long before Krysel could. Krysel purchased a service dog for the price of $10,000.

The day Krysel brought the dog to work, there was a problem – one or more of her co-workers were allergic to dogs.

Krysel offered to work in the public lobby or work at home until the matter was resolved, but the city declined. Krysel was told she could return to work without the dog, or be placed on unpaid administrative leave.

According to her, that is a violation of the ADA in that the city did not offer a “reasonable accommodation.”

Krysel is suing for back pay, punitive damages, and lawyer’s fees.

Here is a case where an claim made under the ADA (Krysel’s allergy to paprika) runs smack dad into another ADA claim made by another worker (being allergic to dogs.) Whose claim carries more weight or is more important?

This case highlights the problem with the ADA – it assumes that there is always an answer to a issue like this. Sometimes the answer has to be “we tried, but there is nothing more that we can do.”

The fact of the matter is that it seems the city tried to work with Krysel in the area of her allergy. The city removed from the workplace potential risks to her. Now, it almost seems that she is demanding that someone else be forced to deal with an allergy that she is bringing into the area. Why does Krysel feel she has the right to both demand that paprika be removed from the area as well as demand she bring something into the workplace that causes a reaction in someone else?

While the case may require the wisdom of Solomon to resolve, the reality is that it shouldn’t. This type of “my rights under the ADA overrule your rights under the ADA” scenario was clearly seen by anyone with half a brain, which means Congress ignored it.

We have said this before and will say it again – the Americans with Disabilities Act, while well intentioned, needs to be revisited by Congress and fixed. Right now they have created a tangled mess of rules and regulations that no company can reasonably be expected to know and follow. The result is that there are plaintiffs and lawyers who scour the country looking for violations in order to collect a paycheck rather than fix the alleged violation.

The ADA is an unnecessary, overly burdensome, economic restricting nightmare.

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