Cop Says She Was Fired for Pepper Allergy
DALLAS (CN) - A former Dallas-area police officer was fired because she is allergic to cayenne pepper, a key ingredient in pepper spray, she claims in court.
Angela Figura sued the city of Rowlett in Dallas County Court on Thursday.
Figura claims that soon after she was hired in September 2012, she disclosed her allergy in police academy training paperwork.
"Due to her allergy, Figura refused to participate in training involving being sprayed with Mace, whose ingredients include cayenne pepper," the 7-page complaint states.
"On April 3 and April 9, 2013, Chief W.M. Broadnax sought information from Figura regarding her sensitivity to cayenne pepper. Figura provided medical documentation indicating that she could perform the 'essential functions' of her job and that being exposed to cayenne pepper was not likely to be 'life threatening' to her though it could cause 'respiratory complications' at times."
Figura claims Broadnax accused her of being dishonest about her disability after she proved she was able to perform her job. She says she was fired due to her gender or her sensitivity to cayenne pepper.
Figura claims she was "harassed, discriminated, and retaliated against" and that the city "failed to provide a reasonable accommodation" for her disability.
The city is the only defendant.
Attorney Joe C. Tooley, in Rowlett, declined to comment on the city's behalf Thursday evening, saying the city has not seen the lawsuit yet.
"However, the city stands behind the actions taken regarding Ms. Figura and regrets that the matter apparently remains unresolved," Tooley said in an email statement.
Figura seeks actual and punitive damages for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She is represented by Hessan Parzivand in Stafford.