Former Penn State Police Officer Files Federal Lawsuit Against University Over ADA Compliance
A former Penn State police officer is seeking more than $75,000 and reinstatement to the department after filing a federal lawsuit Thursday that accused the university of not complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The officer, Michael Strenchock, filed the four-count, 20-page lawsuit in the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania.
Strenchock was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis — a severe inflammatory bowel disease — and was stationed at Penn State’s Hazleton campus from 2015 until 2018. His symptoms included abdominal pain, diarrhea, mood disorders, and depression.
In 2018, Penn State began assigning Strenchock overtime shifts at its Scranton and Wilkes-Barre campuses throughout the week, according to attorney Kimberly Borland. Those campuses were each approximately 50 minutes from Strenchock’s home, which is fewer than 10 minutes away from the university’s Hazleton campus.
“The combination of the increased, mandated overtime and the new travel requirements often forced [Strenchock] to work one shift in one location, and a following shift to commence within eight hours at the other location,” Borland wrote.
Borland added that changes to Strenchock’s work schedule negatively impacted his condition and worsened his health over time.
In October 2018, Strenchock requested the university not assign him to overnight shifts and reduce overtime hours. He accompanied the request with a letter from his physician, who recommended working only during the day or evening for approximately 40 hours per week.
Strenchock’s supervisor, Lieutenant Dale Osenbach, reportedly told him to “just deal with it” after receiving the request.
Subsequently, Penn State didn’t offer any accommodations, leading Strenchock to resign that January after citing a “severely abusive working environment.”
Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers declined to comment on the lawsuit, referencing the university’s policy on not commenting on pending litigations.
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