Community College Sued for Failure to Accommodate Bum Knee

A community college English professor is suing her employer for alleged failure to accommodate her disability. The case was brought in the United States District Court of Maryland.

Kamala Edwards was hired by Montgomery College as a professor in 1989, according to the complaint. In 2002 she fell in an elevator on campus and injured her knee. Following the injury the college accommodated Edwards by scheduling all her classes in the same building in order to minimize the amount of walking she had to do.

Edwards claims that in 2013 her summer school schedule had her teaching in two separate buildings. A request was made for a room change to allow her to stay in one building, but nothing was done. She claims that on the day the request was made, while walking from one building to the other, she injured her knee while walking up a ramp. After that, a change was made so that Edwards would teach in two buildings close to each other, but not in the same one.

Edwards claims that because of the recent injury she could not return to work.

Edwards’s Spring 2014 schedule also had her teaching in two separate buildings, according to the complaint. Although the administration informed Edwards that they would accommodate her by moving her classes to the same building, she told them she had not been cleared to return to work by her doctor. She then complained to the college’s chief of staff of a hostile work environment. She continued to work over the summer in a limited capacity.

In August 2014 Edwards informed the college that she could return to work, according to the complaint. She included a note from her doctor indicating that Edwards should be allowed to park close to her office, walking should be limited to classes in the same building, and that, due to knee pain, she could not walk long distances, climb stairs or ramps. Edwards claims that, although her classroom assignments were all in the same building, they “caused her to walk the longest distances possible within the building” and that she would have to walk over 500 feet to get from one classroom to another. She then requested that all her classes be in the same room.

Edwards filed an internal EEO complaint in December 2014, according to the complaint. Her claim was denied. She claims that the college retaliated against her for filing an EEO complaint by assigning her classes in multiple buildings where it had accommodated her before the complaint was filed.

Edwards is represented by Morris Fischer of Silver Spring, Maryland.