A retired public school teacher in Ohio has lost a federal appeal of her disability discrimination lawsuit against a suburban Cincinnati school district.
The 63-year-old teacher’s unique disability, she has claimed, is that she has a phobia of young children.
This week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court decision dismissing several claims by the teacher, Maria Waltherr-Willard, against the Mariemont school district, reports Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO.
Waltherr-Willard, a French and Spanish teacher who had been employed by the district for 35 years, alleged that the discrimination occurred primarily in 2010, when the district reassigned her from high school to junior high. The suit also claimed the district wanted her to quit because of her age. (RELATED: Ohio Teacher Sues School District Over Child-Phobia ‘Disability’)
The alleged disability is pedophobia, an irrational fear or dislike of children. For what it’s worth, the phobia has been officially recognized as anxiety disorder by psychiatrists.
Alleged symptoms the presence of young children cause in Waltherr-Willard include chest pains, vomiting, stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and nightmares.
Bradford Weber, the attorney representing Waltherr-Willard, submitted explanations by psychiatrists, psychologists and a medical doctor concerning the phobia.
The appeals court judges and the lower court judge did not buy the arguments.
The appeals court ruling focused considerably on a breach-of-contract claim.
“[T]he Mariemont School Board undisputedly never ratified such a contract, which means for our purposes that there was not one,” the appellate judges concluded, according to WCPO.
In her original complaint, Waltherr-Willard said she has suffered from an extreme fear or anxiety around young children since the 1990s. The suit also claimed that school district officials had promised the veteran teacher and her attorney that she wouldn’t be required to teach young children.
As far back as 1997, the district requested that Waltherr-Willard teach Spanish enrichment classes to fourth, fifth and sixth graders. After she and her attorney raised objections, citing her condition, the school district agreed to allow her to teach only high school students.
Waltherr-Willard retired in 2011. At the time, she was making approximately $84,000 a year.