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11th Circuit Finds Employee Conduct May Lead to Termination Even Where the Conduct is the Result of Mental Illness | Littler



On May 27, 2021, a unanimous three-person jury from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh District in the Todd v. Fayette County confirms a school district’s decision to end a mentally ill teacher. The school district’s reasonable assumption that the teacher threatened to kill herself and her son (a student at the school) and harm other school staff, and consumed excessive Xanax while at work, was a legitimate reason to quit, even though they could be mentally ill contributed to their actions.


The applicant, an art teacher, suffered from suicidal thoughts after her father’s suicide and was eventually diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety. The school district was aware of the plaintiff’s mental health problems as she had confided to the school principal, who had encouraged the plaintiff to seek professional help and a formal diagnosis. In fact, the headmistress herself arranged the plaintiff’s first appointment with the specialist who ultimately diagnosed the plaintiff.

In 2017, Teacher’s depression worsened. At least two colleagues reported that the teacher had threatened to kill herself and her son and even pointed out several ways to implement her plan, including numbing her son with Xanax. The teacher was also reported to have consumed Xanax excessively while working in the presence of another teacher.

As a result of these reports, the teacher was involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility and her son was temporarily cared for by her friend, a fellow teacher at the school. Although the plaintiff’s psychiatric doctor gave the teacher a work permit stating that the plaintiff was not posing a threat to himself or anyone else, the school continued its own investigations into the plaintiff’s reports even after the Department of Family Affairs and Security had cleared the plaintiff When she returned to Children’s Services, her child was in her care. The plaintiff filed an objection claiming that it believed it was covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Two days later, the plaintiff’s human resources department announced that the school district would likely end her employment if she did not resign. The plaintiff refused to resign and also requested leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which was granted.

While the plaintiff was on leave, another employee informed the school district that the plaintiff had made further threatening statements – this time to the school management. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff’s employment contract was not renewed.

Following her termination, plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging that her termination constituted unlawful discrimination in violation of the ADA and Rehabilitation Act and prejudice to her rights under the FMLA. Plaintiff also alleged retaliation in violation of all three laws. Although the plaintiff denied the threats reports the school district relied on in order to establish a legitimate business reason for its termination decision, the court of first instance ruled in favor of the school district on all counts and the plaintiff appealed.

Opinion of the court

On appeal, the Eleventh District was faced with the question of whether the school district was entitled to a summary judgment, although the plaintiff’s alleged threats against herself, her son and others that led to her dismissal were due to her severe depressive disorder .

In concluding on the grounds of discrimination, the Eleventh Court assumed that the plaintiff could establish a prima facie case of discrimination (i.e. that it could produce direct evidence of discrimination or, alternatively, produce circumstantial evidence to prove that it did qualified a person with a disability who was treated less favorably because of their disability). Nonetheless, the court found that the school district was able to honor its obligation to provide a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the termination of the plaintiff’s employment, and that the plaintiff was unable to demonstrate that the ground was merely a pretext for discrimination. In making this conclusion, the Eleventh Circle emphasized that:

  • While the plaintiff’s behavior was likely due to her major depressive disorder, the dismissal was not motivated by the major depressive disorder itself, but rather by the plaintiff’s behavior that the school district suspected – threats to herself and others, including her own son who was a student of the district.
  • Whatever the cause of the conduct, the school district was entitled to have the conduct removed from the school, particularly considering that the plaintiff’s work “required her to be responsible for the well-being of her students. . . [because] ADA does not require employers to accept dangerous misconduct, even if that misconduct is the result of a disability. ”
  • The veracity of colleagues’ reports of the plaintiff’s behavior and threats was irrelevant in determining whether the grounds for dismissal given by the school district were an excuse for discrimination, as the pretext investigation focused on the employer’s beliefs (as opposed to beliefs worker) and the teacher had provided no evidence that the final decision maker did not honestly believe the plaintiff made threatening statements and consumed excessive Xanax while on the job.
  • Even the medical clearance to return to work did not turn the reasons given by the school district into a mere pretext for discrimination, since the plaintiff was accused of additional threatening behavior after the clearance to return to work and during the FMLA leave.

With regard to the plaintiff’s claims for retaliation, the Eleventh Circuit found that the temporal proximity between the plaintiff’s statement that she falls under the ADA, her application for leave of absence under the FMLA and her eventual dismissal was insufficient to refute a summary judgment, in the absence of evidence that the school district’s reason for dismissal – the plaintiff’s threats and wrongdoing – provided an excuse for retaliation. This was particularly true when you consider that the school district was already considering terminating the plaintiff’s employment relationship when asserting its ADA and FMLA rights, as the plaintiff’s school had not allowed the plaintiff to return to work until the investigation was completed.

Finally, with regard to the plaintiff’s FMLA disruption action, the Eleventh Circuit found that the action had failed because the plaintiff had to prove that it had been denied a right to which it was entitled, in this case the right to reinstatement. However, the right to be reinstated is not unconditional, and if an employer can demonstrate legitimate reasons for terminating the employment relationship, there is no obligation to reinstate an employee who could otherwise be terminated. Here, the decision-maker’s reasonable assumption that the plaintiff had threatened the school and consumed excessive Xanax made a dismissal reasonable.

Notably, the Eleventh Circle made it clear in their parting words that the fact that she was a teacher may have played a role in his decision. The Eleventh Circle emphasized that the school districts are obliged to protect students and employees from violence, even if the behavior of the employees can be traced back to mental illness.

The Impact of the Todd Decision on Employers

Todd affirms the principle that misconduct by employees can lead to termination, even if the misconduct can be caused by an impairment that is a disability within the meaning of the ADA. The ADA and Rehabilitation Act puts qualified people with disabilities on an equal footing with all other employees with equal status. While disabled workers cannot be treated worse than non-disabled workers because of their disability, the employer has the right to remove an employee who shows misconduct from the workplace in the same way as if the worker were not disabled.

Todd also points out that the mere temporal proximity between an employee making a legal claim and a negative hiring decision is insufficient to warrant retaliation. Applicants are required to provide some evidence of discriminatory animus, and without such an animus, dismissal after a protected activity is not contestable.

While Todd’s opinion is favorable to employers, employers must keep in mind that each case relates to its specific facts. In order to minimize risks, employers should therefore consult their employment advisor on the risks associated with adverse employment measures in relation to an employee who belongs to a protected category or has performed a protected job.


What is Peter Pan syndrome and how does one treat it?- Technology News, Firstpost



Recently, a 23-year-old man was released on bail by a civil court in Mumbai after he was charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl, a minor. He was released on bail under the Special Law to Protect Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) because he has Peter Pan Syndrome. The defendant was given bail of 25,000 rupees on condition that he provided bail. The court also imposed several conditions, including requiring a person familiar with the facts of the case to make promises or reported to commit a similar crime The times of India.

Lawyer Sunil Pandey stated that the victim’s family knew about the relationship and disliked them “because of the boy’s illness and bad background” and also held a grudge against his family members.

He added that the victim knew what she was doing and entered the relationship willingly.

Peter Pan Syndrome. Photo credit: Tech2 / Abigail Banerji

And while this statement was contradicted, according to a PTI Report, the court went ahead and gave the defendant bail. Special Judge SC Jadhav also said that his detention was of no use as the investigation into the matter had been completed and nothing had to be retrieved from him.

What exactly is Peter Pan Syndrome? Let’s find out.

“Technically speaking, Peter Pan Syndrome is not a diagnosis, but a term used in pop psychology,” says Ritika Aggarwal, consultant psychologist at the Jaslok Hospital and Research Center. “It is used to describe any adult man or woman who is not socially mature. While it can affect anyone regardless of gender, race, or culture, it is more common in men.”

Popular psychology or popular psychology is an attempt to present psychological ideas to a general audience. It is considered Pseudoscience and Psychobabble by psychologists, but adopted by humans.

This syndrome is not recognized as a mental illness. It is not mentioned in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD 11), the World Health Organization’s global standard for diagnostic health information. It is not supported by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5.DSM 5). These are the two books that psychiatrists use as a basis for determining if something is a mental disorder.

This term was first used by Dr. Dan Kiley, a psychotherapist, used it in one of his books titled The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Never Grow Up. The book, published in 1983, became hugely popular and “just got stuck,” says Aggarwal. The book tells of how men have difficulty dealing with responsibility and can behave childishly. It is also designed to help them achieve emotional maturity.

In 1984, Kiley published another book called Wendy Dilemma: When Women Stop Mothering Their Men. It’s about how some women can keep Peter Pan Syndrome up by taking responsibility to make up for the man who doesn’t.

How do you know you have this syndrome?

Aggarwal lists a few characteristics someone with Peter Pan Syndrome might have:

  • You avoid responsibility
  • They behave childishly and never want to grow up
  • You are unreliable
  • Can’t handle stressful situations
  • Hold others accountable for their situation
  • Find excuses to get out of a situation
  • Don’t bother
  • Expect others to take care of them

However, Aggarwal cautions that not everyone who exhibits some of these characteristics necessarily has this syndrome; there could be other underlining problems as well.

How do I handle this?

Because it is not classified as a mental disorder and there is insufficient research on the syndrome, treatment can be difficult. Aggarwal said, “If we had to assume what you would do to treat it, it would be therapy.

For example, if a person says that it is really difficult for me to grow up, or that I don’t want to grow up, ”he said,“ then you might address the fears that are holding them back. I see the why behind this, not being able to do something and work on it, work on improving relationships and work patterns. “

However, she cautions that some of the above features could be signs of another mental illness, such as depression. So, if the family notices these signs and forces the person to do things, it can have adverse effects. “It’s really a fine balance,” said Aggarwal.

“How best to help them is based on a symptomatic approach rather than a generalized symptom-based approach.”

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People with eating disorders forced to travel to UK for treatment, says judge



Inadequate services for people with eating disorders are causing “unnecessary suffering” and forcing some patients to go to the UK for treatment, the former President of the High Court warned.

Judge Peter Kelly, who heard an increasing number of requests for guardianship for those with severe eating disorders during his five-year tenure, calls for a reform of the 2001 Mental Health Act and more specialized eating disorders services.

After he retired last year, between 2015 and 2020, around 30 percent of requests for guardianship for younger people concerned young women with anorexia. The applications made by the HSE arise when patients require naso-gastric nutrition – which requires restraint – or need to be brought to the UK for treatment in specialized units.

According to the court service, six women and one girl are under guardianship for severe anorexia nervosa. This includes two women receiving treatment in the UK, although the Irish Times is aware that there are other young women receiving treatment in the UK who have not been appointed protection because of the ability to travel.

Currently there are only three adult eating disorders beds and four inpatient mental health facilities for under 18s in the HSE system.

Individuals with private health insurance have access to eating disorder beds at St. Patrick’s and St. John of God Mental Health Hospitals in Dublin, Lois Bridges Eating Disorder Treatment Center and the National Eating Disorder Recovery Center in Dublin. Other private institutions operate outside of Dublin.

A national HSE Eating Disorder Care Model from 2018 aims to provide eight treatment teams for adults and eight children and adolescents, although only three have been established – two for children and one for adults.


Mr Justice Kelly supports Cared (Caring about Recovery from Eating Disorders) Ireland, a support group for parents, and has attended a meeting between them and Minister of State for Mental Health Mary Butler over the past few weeks.

The 180 members of Cared Ireland, who are also calling for a reform of the 2001 Act, say: “A person with an eating disorder should not be appointed to the ward of the High Court for involuntary refeeding.”

In other common law jurisdictions, including the UK, Australia and New Zealand, patients did not have to be posted for naso-gastric feeding, Justice Kelly said.

Securing ward management can take weeks, says Cared, which “is taking too long … the patient’s health and well-being deteriorate rapidly during this time.”

In his submission to a Health Department review of the law, Mr. Justice Kelly called for “crystal clearness that involuntary feeding is part of the normal treatment of this disease and, in appropriate cases, can be administered without trial.”

“This would avoid additional trauma for everyone involved, not to mention the saved costs. It would also correspond to the position that applies in many common law jurisdictions. “

He continues: “Unfortunately there will remain a cohort of anorexic people who have to resort to ward work, which in the absence of appropriate specialist facilities in this country will have to be sent abroad for treatment, mostly to England. You need orders from both the Irish High Court and its English counterpart to seek treatment there. “

He told the Irish Times that he could understand whether anorexia is a “rare, one-in-a-million disease … but that’s not uncommon”.

“The real problem is with the resources. We do not have any psychiatric departments able to deliver nasal food on demand. We must have adequate facilities for eating disorders with appropriate staff who are fully trained. It’s a specialty. Nursing staff and support staff must all receive extensive training in eating disorders.

“We are fortunate to have the National Health Service [NHS] Britain has given us their specialized facilities so generously, but we really should make them available to our people here. “

Cared Ireland also requests that the parents or caregivers of adult patients with severe eating disorders be involved as advocates in their treatment.

The Ministry of Health did not issue an opinion.

Case study: Jane and her mother

Jane * (19) started restricting food two years ago. For the last month she was in a specialized eating disorders department in the UK receiving treatment for severe anorexia.

Although her daughter was furious, she couldn’t get the treatment she needed at home, but her mother is grateful that the UK’s NHS is available to take care of her.

Jane spent over a year in mental and general hospitals and community assistance, but none were able to help her overcome anorexia.

Diagnosed over a year ago, she saw her family doctor weekly – which her parents paid for – and with an HSE psychiatrist in the community. Her parents also paid a private nutritionist, while a psychologist with expertise in eating disorders was “brought in” to provide support.

“The eating disorder got worse,” says her mother. “Jane’s body mass index got so low that after seeing her, the GP called us and said, ‘You need to take her to the emergency room immediately.'”

The local hospital, she says, took her in and tried to transfer her to a tertiary hospital in hopes of access to an eating disorder service.

“They said they didn’t have the support that she needed. We contacted politicians, but none of the tertiary hospitals could accept them. So the local hospital started the refeeding. They did everything they could, but they had no understanding of eating disorders. “

After being tube fed for several weeks, Jane fired herself. “The staff there were nice, but they didn’t understand what she was going through.” A local government TD made arrangements to get Jane one of the three beds in the country Adult eating disorder at St. Vincent’s University Hospital Dublin, but she was out of the service area.

“Your psychiatrist started applying to hospitals in the UK at this point. He said Ireland simply doesn’t have the resources, publicly or privately, to support the eating disorder where it has been. ”Her treatment in the UK is funded by the HSE.

She did not have to go to court as she was still eligible for travel authorization. However, upon arrival at the hospital, she was sectioned under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983 so the hospital could detain her for her own safety.

“The big difference between the service she got here and the one she gets now is that she works in a specialist department where all employees are trained on eating disorders. You know how to support her, how to talk to her, how to help her overcome the anorexic voice that had completely taken over.

“She’s assigned a therapist. Specialized nursing staff is talking to her. There just wasn’t the mix of medical and specialized psychological support for eating disorders that she needed. “

* Name has been changed

Cared Ireland can be reached at

Bodywhys can be contacted at 01-2107906 or

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Iredell Rehab Provides Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy Services | Iredell Health System



You have just had an operation and are ready to go back to your daily activities more than ever. However, you may find that it is difficult to get back to your everyday life right away.

The good news? Iredell Rehab at Mooresville can help you regain your strength and get back to doing the things you love.

Iredell Rehab is located on the second floor of Iredell Health System’s new facility, Iredell Mooresville. The new rehab center offers advanced rehabilitation services and features floor-to-ceiling windows that give the room a calm, welcoming atmosphere.

Iredell Rehab therapists offer physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to help patients become as independent as possible in their daily lives. There is also a certified sports trainer on site to help with sports injuries.

“Someone may need to visit Iredell Rehab to relieve pain, avoid surgery, return to activity after an injury or surgery, prevent injuries, or improve balance to avoid falls. We help people overcome obstacles to physical activity, ”said Darren Smith, PT, DPT, director of Iredell Rehabilitation Services.

physical therapy
Physiotherapy may be needed to help someone strengthen their muscles after an injury, illness, or surgery. Physiotherapists at Iredell Rehab can help people move more easily.

Iredell Rehab offers treatments for pre- and post-operative rehab, work injuries and recovery, sports injuries and recovery, neurological conditions, orthopedic conditions, spinal pain, balance disorders, concussions, balance and gait disorders, and chronic pain.

The center also offers dry needling treatments, mechanical spinal traction, and manual and manipulative therapies to improve recovery.

Occupational therapy
Iredell Rehab also includes occupational therapy. Occupational therapists help people with an underlying impairment, such as an injury, illness, or disability, carry out everyday activities.

Occupational Therapists at Iredell Rehab provide treatments for neurological and orthopedic conditions, pre- and post-operative rehab, custom splints, work injuries and recovery, and hand, wrist and elbow conditions.

Speech therapy
The speech therapist from Iredell Rehab evaluates and offers treatments for speech, language, voice, cognitive, language flow and swallowing disorders.

After a stroke, brain injury, or head and neck cancer, people often have difficulty communicating, thinking, and swallowing. Some patients may need to learn other ways to communicate if their language is not clear.

Patients diagnosed with a progressive disease like Parkinson’s often benefit from speech therapy to improve and maintain their skills.

Working on improving communication and swallowing skills can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life.

Meet the team
Physical therapy:
Colleen Burnham, PT, DPT, and Christy Millsaps, PT

  • Both Burnham and Millsaps are certified in dry needling and have strong backgrounds in hands-on manual therapeutic techniques.

Occupational Therapy:
Corey Raper, OTR

  • Certified in splints, with a special interest in the treatment of hand and wrist disorders.
  • He is currently training to be a hand therapist and a doctor in occupational therapy.

Speech Therapy:
Caroline Goodson, CCC-SLP

  • Certified in Clinical Competence (CCC) by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
  • Certified in VitalStim for swallowing disorders.
  • Certified in SPEAK OUT !, a program to improve and maintain speech for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Athletic training:
Caroline Sawyer, ATC

  • Certified Sports Coach from South Iredell High School.
  • Aids in assessing athletes for injury and further intervention with the Iredell Health System.

Learn more
To make an appointment at Iredell Rehab, patients can bring a doctor’s referral or the Iredell Rehab team can help patients coordinate a therapy evaluation with their doctor.

“We will work closely with your healthcare provider throughout your treatment. Often times when you call your doctor they will be happy to send you a referral for therapy to meet your needs, ”said Smith.

For more information on Iredell Rehab in Mooresville please call 704-360-6490.

Pictured from left to right: Caroline Sawyer, Certified Athletic Trainer; Caroline Goodson, speech pathologist; Christy Millsaps, physical therapist; Colleen Burnham, physical therapist; Greicy Barahona, Ambulatory Secretary.

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