Terminated Employee Sues Hospital over FMLA Violations

On Monday, a lawsuit was filed against the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia by a former employee in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Trudy Holloway accused her former employer of disability discrimination and retaliation after she attempted to secure accommodations for hearing issues resulting from an infection.

The plaintiff said she began her employment with the defendant in June 2018 as the Foundations Business Manager She began to experience headaches, dizziness, and ringing ears after transferring to a financial data analyst position, the complaint said.

In August 2020, Holloway said she was diagnosed with Otitis Media, an infection of the air-filled space behind the eardrum that can result in head and ear pain as well as hearing loss, Once she was given the diagnosis she began receiving medical treatments but her symptoms worsened, the complaint said. Soon, Holloway said she began experiencing facial numbness, head vibrations, and ringing in the ears, which began to seriously hinder her ability to perform some of her duties.

Holloway informed the defendant of the severe and increasing symptoms of her disabilities that she had been dealing with, as well as her need for work absences for the purpose of managing her symptoms, undergoing various diagnostic tests, and receiving treatment. She said this qualified as the plaintiff notifying the defendant of her need for a reasonable accommodation.

Instead of granting these accommodations, the defendant allegedly retaliated. Her then supervisor reprimanded her for not taking adequate notes during meetings, despite the fact that she was fully aware that plaintiff’s disabilities prohibited her from hearing well enough to take detailed notes.

The plaintiff’s condition, the complaint said, had become so persistently detrimental to her work performance that she approached the defendant  to discuss her options should she require additional accommodations such as time away from the workplace. At no point during this meeting did the defendant offer Holloway information regarding an FMLA leave, according to Holloway.

Instead of accommodating these needs, the defendant allegedly continued to chastise her for her requests as well as her ongoing job performance issues related to her condition. The complaint said that on October 7, 2020, the defendant terminated the plaintiff’s employment due to poor performance. Her supervisor purportedly stated that they were unwilling to wait for Holloway’s symptoms to be resolved.

The plaintiff claims that this behavior violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). The plaintiff also requested that the defendant train their staff on the importance of equal employment opportunities and asked that the defendant wipe any negative, discriminatory remarks or details from her record of employment.

The plaintiff is represented by Koller Law.