A former associate professor at Georgia Military College is suing the school for wrongful termination, saying he was fired for refusing to return to in-person teaching despite being immunocompromised, reports The Telegraph.
The lawsuit filed on Feb. 16 is arguing that GMC violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it fired Joshua Fields — a biology professor at the college's Augusta campus since 2013 —who is described as having “serious medical conditions,” including Crohn’s disease and kidney failure, which “compromise his immune system” and “place him at higher risk for serious illness ... were he to contract COVID-19.”
At the onset of the pandemic, Fields began teaching classes remotely in March 2020, as did other professors at GMC. However, when the school began that requiring professors return to on-campus teaching in August 2020, Fields told GMC that doing so would be against the advice of his doctor and asked that he be allowed to continue teaching remotely through the end of 2020.
According to the lawsuit, GMC told fields that he could either return to in-person teaching or take unpaid leave. Fields took the unpaid leave with the intention of returning in early 2021; however, at that point, "the COVID-19 pandemic was still raging and it remained unsafe and against medical advice for Dr. Fields to return to in-person teaching in January 2021," states the lawsuit.
Subsequently, Fields requested that he return to teaching, albeit remotely, in January 2021. According to the lawsuit, GMC denied the request and fired Fields on Feb. 1, 2021. According to The Telegraph, Fields is seeking a jury trial as well as unspecified damages for “pain and emotional distress,” back pay, and “other lost benefits.”
According to The Telegraph, GMC did not respond to request for comment.