July 28, 1993

XXXX XXXX XXXX Re: Old Complaint Number XXX New Complaint Number XXX Dear Mr. XXX: This letter constitutes the Department of Justice's Letter of Findings with respect to the complaint you filed against the Washoe County Sheriff's office alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. The Department of Justice is the agency responsible under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 [ADA] for investigating complaints filed against components of State and local government in the area of law enforcement. Your complaint alleges that the Washoe County Sheriff's Office has discriminated against you by denying your participation in the patrol division because of your back injury and subsequent sick leave. The Civil Rights Division has completed its investigation of your complaint and has determined that the Washoe County Sheriff's Office is not in violation of title II. of the ADA for the reasons explained below. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination in employment against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability. 28 C.F.R. 35.140[a]. "Disability" is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. 28 C.F.R. 35.104. The preamble to the Department of Justice's title II regulation further defines what constitutes a disability as follows: [T]he duration, or expected duration, of an impairment is one factor that may properly be considered in determining whether the impairment substantially limits a major life activity. . . . The question of whether a temporary impairment is a disability must be resolved on a case-by-

case basis, taking into consideration both the duration [or expected duration] of the impairment and the extent to which

01-00059 -2it actually limits a major life activity of the affected individual. 56 F.R. 35699. Our investigation of your complaint and the Sheriff's Office's response revealed that you injured your back on XXX. You were subsequently out on sick leave from XXX until XXX of the same year, returning to full duty on XXX, after being on limited duty for just over four months. You stated in a telephone conversation with a member of Coordination and Review section staff, on September 30, 1992, that you had recovered from your back injury and that it no longer limits you in any way. You stated that you can do anything now that you could do before the injury, with the exception of sit-ups and bending. Dr. XXX confirmed your self-prognosis in a letter to Undersheriff D.G. Coppa dated October 21, 1992, in which he stated, "Mr. XXX has recovered nicely from his occupational injury to his low back. He certainly needs no further diagnostic evaluations or treatments at this point. He has demonstrated his ability to perform his normal job duties in the past few months . . . . " Previously, you had been cleared back to full duty by Dr. XXX , who wrote on XXX ,that you had recovered from a herniated disc and were able to return to full duty work as of XXX . Because you have recovered from your injury to the point

that it no longer substantially limits any major life activities, your impairment was temporary. Furthermore, the full extent of your disability lasted ten months, and you were out of work for only two months and not an full duty for a total of six months. Because your impairment lasted a total of only ten months, and because you were able to function during much of this time, the Department has determined that you do not fall within the first prong of the definition of disability. For the reasons stated above, you similarly do not fall within the second prong of the definition of disability: having a record of impairment which substantially limits a major life activity. The third prong of the definition of disability is being regarded as having an impairment which substantially limits a major life activity. While it is clear that your supervisors at the Sheriff's office were aware of your back injury and subsequent sick leave, they were also well aware of the doctor's statements mentioned above. Neither you nor the Sheriff's office supplied any evidence that you were perceived by the Sheriff's Office as having an impairment that substantially limited a major life activity. Based on the foregoing information, we have concluded that 01-00060

-3you are not a qualified individual with a disability entitled to the protections of title II. If you are dissatisfied with our determination, you may file a private complaint in the United States District Court under title II of the ADA. This letter does not address other potential claims of discrimination on the basis of disability that may arise from the activities of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office. Rather, this letter is limited to the allegations presented in your complaint. You should be aware that Federal law protects your right to file a complaint. A State or local government or recipient of

Federal financial assistance may not intimidate, threaten, coerce, or engage in other discriminatory conduct against anyone who has either taken action or participated in an action to secure rights protected by the ADA or section 504. If at any time you feel you are being harassed or intimidated because of your dealings with the Department of Justice, we urge you to let us know immediately. This office would investigate such a complaint if the situation warrants. Under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 522, we may be required to release this letter and other correspondence and records related to your complaint in response to a request from a third party. Should we receive such a request, we will safeguard, to the extent permitted by the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, the release of information which could constitute an unwarranted invasion of your or other's privacy. If you have any questions concerning this letter, please feel free to call Naomi Milton at [202] 514-9807. Sincerely,

Stewart B. Oneglia Chief Coordination and Review Section Civil Rights Division cc: Vincent G. Swinney Sheriff Washoe County Sheriff's Office

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