Ex-Worker Sues City Over Service Dog For Paprika Allergy

Lawsuit: City Wouldn't Accommodate Service Dog

A former city worker is suing Indianapolis after she claims the city failed to accommodate the service dog she needs due to her severe allergy to paprika.

Emily Kysel, a former project development analyst with the Department of Code Enforcement, filed suit Monday under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the lawsuit, Kysel was diagnosed in 2005 with a life-threatening allergy to paprika, a spice commonly used to add flavor and color to food.

"Even in small inhaled amounts, Ms. Kysel suffers from severe allergic anaphylactic reactions. Each exposure to paprika makes the next allergic reaction more severe," the lawsuit reads.

After steps to avoid paprika at work, including eliminating certain foods from the office vending machines, proved ineffective, the city's ADA coordinator gave Kysel information about service dogs that can detect the spice, according to the lawsuit.

Kysel worked with the city and her supervisor to arrange for her to obtain a service dog, and her request was approved in June 2009, the lawsuit states.

Kysel paid $10,000 at her own expense to buy the dog and was granted leave to retrieve the dog from Texas in early 2010, according to the lawsuit.

She brought her service dog to work on for the first time in late January 2010. The same day, Kysel was told that her dog could not return because of a co-worker's allergy to dogs, the lawsuit states.

Kysel offered to temporarily work in the public lobby with her service dog or work from home until the matter was settled, but those requests were denied, and she was told she could either work without her service dog or remain on unpaid leave, according to the lawsuit.

"Neither option is a reasonable accommodation to Ms. Kysel's disability. Indeed, such options were retaliatory against Ms. Kysel," the lawsuit reads.

In May 2010, Kysel received a letter saying she had voluntarily resigned her position with the Department of Code Enforcement, the lawsuit states.

"The city intentionally discriminated against Ms. Kysel when it failed to provide reasonable accommodation for her even though several suggested accommodations would not impose undue hardship on the city," the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit seeks back pay, punitive damages and attorney fees.

The city had not filed a response to the lawsuit with the court as of Monday.

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