Taylor v. City of Shreveport

Decision Date13 August 2015
Docket NumberNo. 14–31161.,14–31161.
Citation798 F.3d 276,31 A.D. Cases 1653
PartiesFred TAYLOR; Vickie Williams ; Jessica Walker ; Michael Carter, Plaintiffs–Appellants v. CITY OF SHREVEPORT; Willie L. Shaw, Jr., Individually and in his official capacity as Chief of Police; Duane Huddleston, Individually and in his official capacity as Deputy Chief of Police; David Kent, Individually and in his official capacity as Assistant Chief of Police; Debbie Strickland, Individually and in her official capacity as Captain of Shreveport Police Dept., Defendants–Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit

Pamela Nathan Breedlove (argued), Breedlove Law Firm, Bossier City, LA, for PlaintiffsAppellants.

Edwin H. Byrd, III (argued), Pettiette, Armand, Dunkelman, Woodley, Byrd & Cromwell, L.L.P., Shreveport, LA, for DefendantsAppellees.

Before JOLLY, HIGGINBOTHAM, and DAVIS, Circuit Judges.


W. EUGENE DAVIS, Circuit Judge:

PlaintiffsAppellants are police officers employed by the City of Shreveport (the City). The City's police department (the “Department”) recently adopted a new sick leave policy entitled “SPD 301.06.” Plaintiffs challenge SPD 301.06 on numerous statutory and constitutional grounds. They seek declaratory and injunctive relief, damages, fees, and costs.

The district court dismissed Plaintiffs' suit in its entirety pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). We affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand for further proceedings.


We review de novo the district court's decision to dismiss a complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), accepting as true the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint.”1 “To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint ‘does not need detailed factual allegations,’ but it must provide the plaintiff's grounds for entitlement to relief—including factual allegations that, when assumed to be true, ‘raise a right to relief above the speculative level.’2 We may affirm a district court's order dismissing a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) “on any basis supported by the record.”3

Defendants have attached copies of SPD 301.06 and its associated forms to their motion to dismiss. We may consider these documents when reviewing the district court's order.4


We begin with Plaintiffs' facial challenges to SPD 301.06 under federal law.


Plaintiffs first challenge SPD 301.06's home confinement provisions. The policy provides that an officer on sick leave must generally remain at his or her residence for the entire sick leave period. However, the officer may leave his or her home to (1) vote; (2) participate in religious activities; (3) obtain medication; (4) undergo medical care, rehabilitative or therapeutic exercise, or other therapeutic activities; and (5) obtain food or meals. The officer need not first obtain permission to engage in any of these enumerated activities.

Plaintiffs assert that the home confinement provisions violate their rights to travel and associate with others under the Substantive Due Process clause of the United States Constitution.

A “police department, as a paramilitary organization, must be given considerably more latitude in its decisions regarding discipline and personnel management than the ordinary government employer.”5 As a result, “the Police Department's sick leave regulations must be reviewed deferentially.”6 We will reverse on this issue only if “the regulations bear no rational relationship to a legitimate state interest.”7

SPD 301.06's home confinement provisions rationally serve the Department's legitimate interests in safety and morale “by expediting the recovery of sick officers, minimizing the burden on officers who may have to work longer hours while other officers are out sick, and assuring that officers on sick leave are not malingering and that the sick leave policy is not abused.”8 Importantly, the restrictions about which Plaintiffs complain “are not restrictions of their rights at all times, but rather are limitations placed on their activities only when officers represent that they are too ill to report to duty.”9 “It is reasonable, after all, to expect that an employee too ill to work is too ill to be going about other matters outside the home, even beyond the hours of nine to five.”10 Importantly,

[t]he sick leave regulations in no way limit appellants as to whom they may associate with in their homes when ill. Neither do the regulations restrict the frequency or duration of the visits appellants may have in their homes with family and friends while on sick leave. The prohibition on outside-the-home visits to family and friends while on sick leave is entirely reasonable and not unduly restrictive. Similarly, it is unquestionably rational for the [Department] to limit [Plaintiffs'] ability to travel when on sick leave.11

Plaintiffs also argue that the home restriction provisions are unconstitutional because they give government officials too much discretion to decide whether and when an ill or injured officer may leave his or her house.12 We reject this argument as well. When a home confinement provision in a sick leave policy contains readily available and well-defined exceptions, the fact that the policy “leaves certain small decisions to the employer's discretion” will not render the policy unconstitutional.13 SPD 301.06 contains an enumerated list of non-discretionary exceptions, so it passes constitutional muster.14

Thus, we reject Plaintiffs' constitutional challenges to SPD 301.06's home confinement provisions.15


SPD 301.06 also provides: “When a member is using sick leave, their supervisor or the Human Resources Officer may visit or contact the member to ascertain if the department can do anything to assist the member and verify information” regarding the officer's health status. According to Plaintiffs, this provision constitutes “home invasion” and an “unreasonable search and seizure” in violation of the Fourth Amendment. This claim is meritless, so the district court correctly dismissed it.16


Plaintiffs also claim that SPD 301.06 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution because the City's police officers are subject to greater sick leave restrictions than the City's firefighters. This challenge is meritless. The City has a rational basis for treating police officers differently than firefighters.17 Police officers, unlike firefighters, are tasked with apprehending potentially hostile suspects, and they are authorized to use deadly force if necessary. It is therefore rational for the City to take stronger measures to protect the physical and mental health of its police officers than it takes to protect its firefighters.18


Plaintiffs also challenge the provisions of SPD 301.06 that authorize the Department to obtain medical information from ill or injured officers. According to Plaintiffs, requesting and obtaining this information constitutes an unlawful inquiry into the nature and severity of an officer's disability.

Section 12112(d)(4)(A) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) provides:

A covered entity shall not require a medical examination and shall not make inquiries of an employee as to whether such employee is an individual with a disability or as to the nature or severity of the disability, unless such examination or inquiry is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Thus, a prohibited medical examination or inquiry may constitute a form of employment discrimination under the ADA.19

Importantly, § 12112(d)(4)(A) is codified in Title I of the ADA. Plaintiffs cannot bring a cause of action directly under Title I because Plaintiffs have not satisfied that Title's exhaustion requirements. In an attempt to get around the exhaustion bar, Plaintiffs argue that they are actually pursuing medical inquiry claims under Title II of the ADA,20 which forbids disability discrimination in the provision of public services,21 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which forbids “any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance” from discriminating against persons solely on the basis of disability.22 Plaintiffs argue that Title II and the Rehabilitation Act incorporate Title I's medical inquiry prohibition by reference without also incorporating Title I's exhaustion requirements.


The district court correctly dismissed Plaintiffs' Title II claims. Unlike Title I of the ADA, Title II does not create a cause of action for employment discrimination.23 An unlawful medical inquiry by a public employer constitutes a form of employmentdiscrimination under the ADA.24 Thus, a plaintiff may not pursue a medical inquiry claim under Title II.


Plaintiffs' Rehabilitation Act claims fare slightly better. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides:

No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States ... shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service.25

Unlike Title II of the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act incorporates many of Title I's prohibitions on employment discrimination by reference,26 including § 12112(d)(4)(A)'s medical inquiry prohibition.27 Therefore, unlike Plaintiffs' Title II claims, Plaintiffs' Rehabilitation Act claims may proceed if their complaint properly states a claim under that statute.


Defendants first argue that Plaintiffs lack the qualifications necessary to bring a claim under the Rehabilitation Act. For the following reasons, we disagree.


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act only applies to (1) federal agencies and (2) entities receiving federal financial assistance.28 [T]o state a § 504 claim under the ...

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