Edison Jules
Edison Jules

In a racial discrimination lawsuit against his police department, the Ohio Democrat challenging Broward Sheriff Scott Israel claimed he was disabled due to “memory loss.” In 2011, Edison Jules filed a lawsuit against the Village of Obetz Police Department. He based his lawsuit on violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Last week, Jules filed campaign paperwork for the 2016 Democrat nomination for Broward County Sheriff.

In September 2013, The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio reviewed Jules’ lawsuit.

The Haitian-born Jules was hired by the Obetz Police Department in March 2007. According to the Court, in May 2007 “After obtaining an identification card, Jules was concerned that his picture was “to [sic] dark to be seen” and asked his colleagues what he should do about it. Jules’s supervisor, Sergeant Robert Rigby (“Rigby”) said to Jules, “You’ve got to go get another card . . . nobody can see you in that photo.” (Plaintiff’s Deposition, Doc. 18, at 94-95.) Rigby then added that Jules could not be seen in the photo because Jules was not smiling, a reference to the visual contrast between Jules’s dark skin and light teeth.”  After an internal investigation, Rigby was ordered to attend diversity training.

In May 2009, Jules “lost consciousness while on duty and was taken to the hospital. After a five-day hospital stay, he was released and excused from work for seven days.” The Court noted, “Although Jules was referred to a therapist for his memory, there is no evidence that he ever received memory-related treatment.”

In February 2010, Jules lost his department issued telephone. “Jules reported the loss of the phone to his supervisor and asked that someone from the police department go to his house to inform him if he was needed when off-duty, as Jules would be unreachable by phone.” A few days later, Jules failed to appear in court as a witness. His absence violated Obetz Police Department Directive (“OPDD”) 1.29: Requirement to Attend Trials or Hearings. After two disciplinary hearings, the Mayor of Obetz determined Jules, “demonstrated a lack of trustworthiness and inability to take responsibility for his own conduct, and exhibited an inability to meet the standard expected of a uniformed officer in the Village of Obetz.”

Jules was terminated from the Obetz Police Department.

Disability Claim Questioned

Jules’ employers questioned whether he qualified as a”disabled” under the ADA. The Defendants claimed they were never aware of his “disability.” The United States District Court questioned Jules’ claims as well.

The Court held Jules “failed to adduce any admissible evidence that he has a disability under any of the three definitions. At most, he has produced evidence that he was hospitalized and subsequently cleared to return to work. Plaintiff states that he was told by an unnamed neurologist that his condition could cause memory issues. There is no medical documentation of any memory issue, nor is there a statement from any physician to suggest Jules may have had a memory problem.”

The Court rejected Jules’ claims the Obetz Police Department were aware of his “disability.” The Court wrote, “There is also insufficient evidence to suggest that Defendants believed Plaintiff might have a disability. Plaintiff claims that Chief Hinkle was present when the neurologist diagnosed him with a brain aneurysm, but there is no other evidence in the record that the medical event was ever diagnosed as an aneurysm, or that the aneurysm actually resulted in memory issues. Plaintiff also states that he told his supervisor that he was experiencing memory issues. There is also no evidence that Plaintiff’s supervisor was informed that Plaintiff’s memory lapses were due to impairment. An employer cannot discriminate against an employee on the basis of a disability when it is unaware that the disability exists. Simpkins v. Specialty Envelope, 94 F.3d 645 (6th Cir. 1996) (unpublished).”

Jules is currently the deputy chief of the Shawnee (Ohio) Police Department. Given these questions about his trustworthiness, Broward Democrat voters have every right to demand answers as to why an Ohio police officer wants to be the next Broward County Sheriff.