A four-page dismissal stipulation can be found here. The document does not state why the case was dismissed.
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A proposed class action alleges the Peace Corps has discriminated against invitees with disabilities by denying them opportunities and failing to conduct individualized assessments or consider reasonable accommodations during the medical clearance process.
The 13-page lawsuit, filed in California against Acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn in her official capacity, alleges the Corps’ medical office, as a “regular policy and practice,” denies positions abroad to invitees—i.e., those who were extended an invitation to become a Peace Corps volunteer and have accepted their invitation but have not been placed as a volunteer—with disabilities, perceived disabilities and records of disabilities.
According to the complaint, the Peace Corps medical office, in particular, fails to conduct individualized assessments of invitees with disabilities to assess their capacity to serve in specific posts abroad. Instead, the Corps “discriminates against them based upon stereotypes about their medical conditions,” the lawsuit alleges.
The plaintiff alleges she was denied placement abroad as a Peace Corps volunteer as a result of having major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, for which she takes prescription medications. The Peace Corps, the plaintiff says, did not conduct an individualized assessment or engage in an interactive process in good faith before denying her placement abroad, and failed to conduct an undue hardship/direct threat analysis or consider reasonable accommodations. The suit argues the plaintiff, who was offered a Peace Corps volunteer position in North Macedonia in February 2020, was qualified for the position for which she was selected and could have performed all essential functions of the role with or without reasonable accommodations.
Per the complaint, the Peace Corps “routinely” fails to fulfill its obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by denying individuals participation in the federally funded program.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was denied medical clearance for the offered Peace Corps role five days after it was offered. The reason given for the denial, the suit says, was that the plaintiff had a recent change in psychiatric medications and was currently engaged in treatment for her mental health conditions. The denial also stated, without basis in fact, according to the complaint, that it was “likely, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the potentially stressful environment of Peace Corps would aggravate, exacerbate, accelerate, or permanently worsen your pre-existing medical concerns,” and potentially cause the plaintiff to be unable to complete the 27-month tour of duty without interruption.
The plaintiff disputed the Peace Corps’ ruling on her fitness to serve, citing, among other factors, her successful, extensive stints in Syria, Lebanon and Peru despite her diagnoses of depression and anxiety, the lawsuit continues. Per the case, the plaintiff even offered to put the Corps’ medical office in direct contact with her psychiatrist, and stated that she had located pharmacies and delivery services near the Peace Corps headquarters in North Macedonia that would allow her to continue to receive her medication without interruption.
In late March 2020, the plaintiff timely submitted a formal appeal of the Peace Corps’ decision, and in April the woman informed the medical office that she was completing her therapy treatment and planned to discontinue her medication with her providers’ approval, the suit states.
“This information did not change the Peace Corps’ decision to reject Plaintiff later that year,” the complaint says.
The lawsuit looks to represent all Peace Corps invitees from August 2, 2020 until the resolution of the complaint who were denied volunteer positions as a result of the Corps’ denial of medical clearance for services due to their disability, record of disability or perceived disability.
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