Kurtzhals v. County of Dunn, No. 19-3111 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Dunn County Sergeant Kurtzhals threatened physical violence against one of his fellow officers, Deputy Rhead. The Sheriff’s Office put him on temporary paid administrative leave and ordered him to undergo a fitness-for-duty evaluation. Kurtzhals, believing that his supervisors took this action because they knew that Kurtzhals has a history of PTSD stemming from his military service, not because his conduct violated the County’s Workplace Violence Policy and implicated public safety, sued for employment discrimination, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12112. The district court concluded that no reasonable jury could find that Kurtzhals’s PTSD was the “but for” cause of Dunn County’s action or that it was plainly unreasonable for Kurtzhals’s superiors to believe that a fitness-for-duty examination was warranted, and granted the county summary judgment.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Kurtzhals had no evidence to support his claim of pretext; there is no evidence that his supervisors knew about Kurtzhals’s PTSD. Contrary to Kurtzhals’s argument that he and Rhead acted in a comparable fashion and should have been treated similarly, the record reflects that only Kurtzhals explicitly threatened physical violence. Rhead may have behaved in an intimidating fashion towards Kurtzhals, but their behavior was not identical.