A teacher who was a veteran of the Iraq war suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. When he began working as a high school teacher, he informed his principal that enclosed spaces and loud noises triggered his PTSD and requested that he be excused from attending school pep rallies. The principal agreed that he could monitor the hallways during pep rallies.

This arrangement continued for a year and a half, until the high school held a schoolwide “lip dub,” which would be similar to a pep rally. A department chair told the teacher to attend the lip dub. He informed her that he “does not go to pep rallies” and emphasized his inability to “be in that kind of situation,” but the department chair insisted. The experience, which involved students screaming, popping balloons and shooting off confetti cannons, caused the teacher to have a flashback to Iraq.

With help from students, he returned to the classroom. He sent the department chair a text message explaining that he had to leave. She responded “Sorry, we needed everybody there!” The teacher experienced panic attacks and flashbacks for the rest of the day. He left the school and did not return. He filed a lawsuit against the district, arguing that it had violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by withdrawing the accommodation of allowing him to patrol the hallways during pep rallies.

The district requested that the lawsuit be dismissed, arguing that it never denied the teacher an accommodation under the ADA. In order to win his lawsuit, the teacher needed to be able to prove that he was qualified to perform his job, but suffered from a disability; that the employer knew about the disability; and that the employer failed to make a reasonable accommodation for limitations resulting from the disability. Here, the district argued that it gave the teacher the accommodation he requested by permitting him to patrol the hallways during pep rallies.

The court denied the request to dismiss the lawsuit, finding that even though it did grant the teacher the accommodation he requested, it withdrew the accommodation when it required him to attend the lip dub.