Attorney Gregory D. Jordan Remarks On Employment Lawsuit By Former Legal Secretary
Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) October 24, 2013 – A former legal secretary has filed an employment lawsuit against a Houston-based law firm.
The employee, Lenora Phelps, claims that she was harassed and then terminated by her employer, Coats Rose Yale Ryman & Lee PC, after she took medical leave.
The plaintiff claims that she took medical leave in late 2011 under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to seek treatment for a respiratory condition, and when she returned to work she was subjected to an “insulting and hostile” work environment before the firm terminated her employment late in 2012. The lawsuit alleges that the termination was in retaliation for the employee taking medical leave.
“Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, an employer cannot retaliate against a covered employee for taking medical leave,” said Gregory D. Jordan, an Austin employment attorney not involved in the case. “The Act was designed to protect employees, but unfortunately some employers become so incensed with employees exercising their legal rights that they do retaliate,” continued Jordan.
The lawsuit alleges that before Phelps took medical leave, she received many compliments on her work, but that when she returned to work, she was subjected to harassment and discrimination that made it difficult for her to perform her work duties.
Phelps claims that on one occasion she was put on probation for downloading Christian instrumental music while covering a co-worker’s desk, which was common practice at the firm, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint also alleges that the employee’s requests for changes in working conditions to accommodate her respiratory condition were denied, and that her use of bottled oxygen in the office was questioned.
In December 2012, Phelps alleges that the firm attempted to cancel her medical insurance, claiming that she had not submitted the proper enrollment forms. Phelps claims that she produced proof that she had submitted the forms in a timely fashion. According to the lawsuit, the firm relented on the issue of medical insurance, but terminated her employment shortly afterward.
The lawsuit alleges violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. The suit seeks damages up to $1 million. The lawsuit was filed in the 80th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas.