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Woman claims disability discrimination after brain tumor surgery

The workplace can bring on large amounts of stress and, if left unchecked, is capable of manifesting and making a person physically ill. Sometimes, taking time away from the highly stressful components of a job or reducing the work load may be just what the doctor ordered. However, some Texas employers may not agree with a doctor's recommendation and may unjustly terminate the employee due to his or her health condition, which could result in a disability discrimination claim.

A woman who worked for the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates has filed a claim against her employer because she believes that she lost her job due to her disability. Four years after her promotion, she claims that she was under extreme stress, which began to manifest into headaches and anxiety and ultimately sent her to the emergency room. Months later, she went back to the emergency room again under the same conditions and was informed that she had a brain tumor and had to undergo immediate surgery.

She alleges that after she requested to take a leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, the company began looking into her behavior at work and her performance. Once she went back to work, she said that she told her supervisors that she was under doctor's orders to keep her stress levels low and that she would only be working for half of the day for the first week that she returned to work. She said that her supervisors began to mention areas in which she needed improvement that were extremely minor, leading to her feeling stress and taking additional leave time.

The plaintiff was called into a meeting and was told that she would be losing her job for failure to follow company protocol, but her employees would be told it was due to health issues. She filed a lawsuit against the company in the Southern District of Texas for wrongful termination and disability discrimination. If she is successful in her claim, she may receive a monetary award with respect to the financial damages she is seeking, which include her mental and emotional pain and suffering. Employees who feel that they have been removed from their position because of their disability may be entitled to file a claim against their employer in an effort to receive any lost wages as well as be possibly reinstated.

Source: The Southeast Texas Record, "Houston woman sues employer claiming termination due to disability", Matt Russell, July 30, 2014

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