Officer sues Capitol Police for challenging her fitness

A Capitol Police officer has filed suit against the department for restricting her duties and challenging her fitness for the job following the suicide of her husband.

On April 27, Judy Gordon filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking damages and lost wages after the department put her on administrative duty and blocked her scheduled overtime last year.

According to a copy of the complaint obtained by The Hill, Gordon was approved for 240 hours of federally mandated Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time, which the department provides to officers to deal with chronic or recurring conditions.

In her paperwork, Gordon provided medical certification that she experienced “intermittent periods of severe and incapacitating periods of depression” following her husband’s death in October 2010.

During a shift at work in July 2011, Gordon was told to report to her supervisors, who told her her police powers were to be revoked pending a fitness for duty exam, the complaint stipulates. Gordon was limited to administrative duty and was not allowed to work scheduled overtime shifts as a result.

When pressed for a reason as to why her duties were limited, a supervisor reportedly said, “What if she’s experiencing this severe depression and decided to pick up something?”

In her complaint, Gordon alleges that a member of department management instead intentionally found fault with her FMLA request because it was originally granted without his knowledge.

Gordon was subsequently subjected to more than 900 written questions and an interview with a department therapist before she was found fit for duty and her police powers reinstated, the complaint adds.

Just two months later, however, Gordon’s sister passed away. Shortly thereafter, in October 2011, Gordon was asked to participate in an active shooter training course during daytime hours, which differed from her usual night shift work schedule.

The death of her sister and the anniversary of her husband’s suicide left Gordon “not in the best mental condition,” and required her to seek an appointment with her therapist that coincided with the scheduled training activity.

Gordon requested that her training be rescheduled. Prior to this, she had not used any of her pre-approved FMLA time nor had she sought any other accommodations related to her therapy, the complaint asserts. Her request was originally denied, but later granted.

According to the complaint, though Gordon met the requirements for FMLA time off, she was deprived of wages she would have earned working overtime and subjected to a fit for duty exam, “the record of which will be detrimental to her ability to obtain salary increases, promotions and/or transfers.”

As such, Gordon is seeking nearly $1,000 in damages for lost wages and expenses resulting from the department’s actions, as well as the removal of the fit for duty exam and medical documentation from her personnel file.

Spokespeople for both the Capitol Police and the Labor Committee declined to comment on the matter, stating they do not discuss pending litigation.