Fired Officer Claims Alcoholism As Disability, Sues City

A fired police officer claimed alcoholism as a disability in a recent lawsuit against the city of Gresham, Oregon. The officer, Jason Servo, was fired for driving drunk in an unmarked police car while he was off-duty.

In the suit, Servo alleges that his rights were violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It adds that he was denied due process and the police union failed to properly represent him in the case. Shawn Kollie, one of the former officer’s attorneys, explained:

“Just as with any type of disability or disease, they should have made some kind of effort to accommodate that, or some kind of effort to work with him, and not simply sever all ties.”

Servo was arrested in January 2011 after he crashed into a ditch with the unmarked police car while off-duty. The lawsuit claiming alcohol as a disability stated that Servo, who was a detective and the department’s lead firearms instructor, had taken the vehicle to a firearms training session in Troutdale.

Then, he joined fellow officers for dinner and drinks. The lawsuit adds, “This was a common practice among [Gresham] officers and had become an inherent part of the culture.”

Even though Servo refused to take a breathalyzer or field sobriety test, the Clackamas County sheriff’s deputy who arrested him testified later that Servo was one of the top 10 most intoxicated people he had arrested in 15 years of drunken-driving investigations.

Servo pleaded guilty to drunken driving two months after his accident. He also entered into a diversion program. He also voluntarily entered an in-patient program, where he was diagnosed as an alcoholic. The lawsuit claiming Servo’s alcoholism was a disability also alleges that the chief fired him because he wanted to save money, ignoring Servo’s known alcoholism disability.

It is not clear if Servo’s lawsuit which requests $6 million from the city of Gresham, will go in his favor. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EOCC), in a fact sheet, provides an example that is similar to Servo’s situation. The only difference is the example’s police officer was on duty during the situation. Servo, however, was not.

Do you think the officer should claim alcoholism as a disability, or was he justly fired for his actions?

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