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Judge Samuel G. Wilson

April 25, 2011
On October 20, 2008 Human Resources Manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation Karl Larson was involved in a “verbal altercation” with his supervisor. Larson claims to have been professionally diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the confrontation. He left work for several weeks and in mid-November stated that he would only return to work if he was promised to not have immediate contact with Elliot, the man that he claims “verbally assaulted him, putting him in apprehension for his safety.” VDOT refused to grant his request for special accommodation and Larson was later terminated. He is now taking legal action in order to be compinsated for the lack of action taken on the part of VDOT. According to the ADA it requires thats it’s employers make “reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an . . . employee.” But in the case of Larson and according to Judge Wilson, there is no “disbility” to prove and therefore the defedents motion to dismiss the case was granted.
Augusta County inmate William Couch was seeking legal action against defendent John Jabe, the Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) for violating his rights by enforcing a grooming policy. The policy does not allow long hair and beards unless its for a medical reason such as a condition that aggrevated by shaving. Although the VDOC policy doesnt allow certain long hair and beards because it promotes gang identification and contraband items can be concealed effortlessly it doesnt however exercise forcible cutting or shaving. If an inmate fails to comply with the grooming policy they are transferred to another housing unit. Couch is a Sunni Muslim and claims that under the Free Exercise Clause, that the defendent is in clear violation of his religious beliefs. RLUIPA provides that “[n]o government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an institution . . . even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” One would think that Couch, who is currently serving consecutive life sentences for multiple counts of rape, robbery and statutory burglary has a decent case. But because growing a beard even if its only the requested amount of 1/8 inch poses a security threat its overruled. Judge Wilson granted the defendants motion for summary judgement on the plaintiffs claims.
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