Davidson v. City of Bridgeport
"Where a government employer has reason to question whether an employee is medically fit to work, the employer may direct the employee to undergo a medical examination," provided that there is a sufficient governmental interest to warrant the request, pursuant to O'Connor v. Pierson, a 2005 decision of the 2nd Circuit. Allegedly, Police Chief Bryan Norwood's observations of Officer Bobby Davidson's conduct made Chief Norwood question Davidson's mental fitness. Police Chief Norwood ordered Davidson to take a psychological independent medical exam, and the psychiatrist opined that Davidson was not fit for duty. Davidson sued, alleging that the city invaded his privacy, in violation of his rights under 42 United States Code §1983, and that Davidson expected information disclosed to remain confidential. The District Court granted summary judgment to the defendants, and Davidson appealed. Davidson failed to establish that the request that he take the IME was egregious and conscience-shocking, as required to prove a substantive due-process violation. Davidson also argued that the IME constituted an unreasonable search, in violation of his 4th Amendment rights. The IME, wrote the 2nd Circuit, qualified as a "special needs" search. The 2nd Circuit considered: 1.) the nature of the individual privacy interest; 2.) the character and degree of the governmental intrusion; and 3.) the nature and immediacy of the government's needs. Davidson possessed a reduced expectation of privacy, because his mental fitness was essential to his work in law enforcement. The government's intrusion was restricted, because an independent psychiatrist performed the IME and only presented his conclusions. The police department has an interest in ensuring cops are mentally fit. "[T]he City of Bridgeport's interest in conducting the IME, based on Norwood's suspicion that Davidson was experiencing psychological difficulties," wrote the 2nd Circuit, "outweighed Davidson's reduced interest in the privacy of personal medical information relevant to the performance of his duty." Davidson was informed that he was not a patient and should not expect medical treatment, and the 2nd Circuit rejected his claim that he was entitled to confidentiality under the psychiatrist-patient privilege. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court, Thompson, J.