A Teacher with Fear of Young Children Lost an Appeal
An Ohio teacher with a phobia of young children lost an appeal accusing her former district of failing to accommodate her disability. The woman said teaching at the middle school repeatedly caused her blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati rejected the appeal from Maria Waltherr-Willard, 63, who had accused the Mariemont district of age discrimination and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Waltherr-Willard, a French and Spanish teacher, alleged the district knew she suffered from pedophobia, a fear of small children, when she was transferred in 2009 from Mariemont High School to the district’s middle school.
The teacher, who retired in January 2011 when her request to be transferred back to the high school was denied, accused the school district of age discrimination for giving the high school Spanish teacher position to a younger instructor and a violation of the ADA for failing to accommodate her pedophobia.
Waltherr-Willard said teaching at the middle school repeatedly caused her blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels. The court ruled the ADA “requires an employer to accommodate a disabled employee, but it does not require unreasonable accommodations.”
The court also rejected the age discrimination allegations, saying the Spanish teacher employed at Mariemont High School is only two years younger than Waltherr-Willard. Dr. Caleb Adler, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati, said pedophobia is a recognized but rare anxiety disorder.
“It’s a tough phobia. You can’t really get away from [children] when you’re outside,” he told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “When you’re a teacher, it may not be an issue with older students.”