McNelis v. Pennsylvania Power & Light Co

PPL hired McNelis as a Nuclear Security Officer in 2009. McNelis had unrestricted access to PPL’s plant, carried a firearm, and was authorized to use deadly force. In 2012, McNelis experienced personal and mental health problems. McNelis was paranoid and had problems with alcohol and bath salts—a synthetic drug that affects the central nervous system. McNelis’s wife moved herself and the children out of the family home. Police received an anonymous 911 call that resulted in a lockdown at his children’s school. McNelis had a three-day stay in an inpatient treatment unit. Pursuant to NRC regulations, McNelis’s unrestricted access was “placed on hold” pending medical clearance. A third-party psychologist interviewed McNelis and performed testing required by PPL policy and NRC regulations and reported that McNelis was not fit for duty. PPL revoked McNelis’s unescorted access authorization and terminated his employment. After his appeal was denied, McNelis sued, claiming his termination violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The district court held that McNelis was fired because he lacked a legally mandated job requirement: the unrestricted security access authorization that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires for armed guards. The Third Circuit affirmed. PPL followed NRC regulation procedures; “[w]hen Congress enacted the ADA, it recognized that federal safety rules would limit application of the ADA as a matter of law.” View "McNelis v. Pennsylvania Power & Light Co" on Justia Law