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Dr. Leon Coursey worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Education at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He began there in 1972. Students logged complaints about Dr. Coursey in 2004, and several colleagues registered complaints in 2007.
In 2009, 12 students reported that Dr. Coursey exhibited erratic behavior in the classroom. He yelled at a student, and he complained about students who questioned his grading methods. He was alleged to have told students that he was the most senior faculty member and “no one could touch him.” Another student said that Dr. Coursey had gone berserk. Four students made written complaints about him, and one adjunct faculty member reported that Dr. Coursey came up behind her while she was sitting at her computer, put his arms around her and stuck his tongue in her ear.
The University suspended Dr. Coursey on February 3, 2009 and later required him to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination. Dr. Coursey refused to attend the fitness exam. Instead, he filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC on October 29, 2009.
On May 25, 2010, the University President filed charges to have Dr. Coursey terminated for professional misconduct. On November 4, 2010, the Faculty Grievance Board unanimously voted in favor of termination. Dr. Coursey contested the termination and appealed to the University President, who upheld the termination. Further appeals were to no avail, leading Dr. Coursey to file suit under the ADA.
First, the Court dealt with the argument by Dr. Coursey that he was “regarded as” having a disability because the University requested tat he undergo a fitness examination. The Court rejected this position: “[A]n employer’s request for a medical examination, standing alone, is not sufficient to establish that the employer ‘regarded’ the employee as disabled.” (citations omitted).
In response to the argument that the University unlawfully demanded that Dr. Coursey submit to a fitness for duty examination, the Court said an employer has a right to such an examination if the medical examination is consistent with business necessity. The Court said, “. . . Dr. Coursey’s abusive and erratic behavior toward students and staff gave (the University) ample reason to seek further information about his ability to continue performing the essential functions of his employment.” It added that campus safety is a core concern of any university. Lastly, the Court found that there was no causal link between his October 2009 EEOC complaint and the University’s initiation of proceedings to terminate him in May 2010 since too much time elapsed between these two events.
This case can be found at Coursey v. University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Civil No. CCB-11-1957 (D. Md. April 30, 2013).