Annie Cosby Jan. 8, 2015, 2:08pm


A Washington County man is suing over claims he was unlawfully fired while in the hospital receiving a kidney transplant.

Toby Randolph filed a lawsuit Oct. 30 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas against Reach Unlimited Inc., citing disability discrimination.

According to the complaint, Randolph was working as director of fund development for Reach in March 2013, when he passed out and was diagnosed with end stage renal failure. The complaint states he was placed on kidney dialysis, informed that his prognosis was dire, requiring a kidney transplant right away and was placed on the national kidney donor/recipient network.

Randolph says he informed the defendant's executive director, Kathleen Schmidt, of his diagnosis, transplant and necessary recuperation period, while also assuring her he wanted to continue working at Reach, and she agreed he could and would be able to work from home after the transplant but moved him from salary pay to an hourly basis.

Randolph says when he was able to locate a donor kidney, the surgery was scheduled Sept. 17, 2013, at Methodist Hospital, but in the interim, he continued to work for Reach on his laptop at the medical center during the dialysis he underwent several times a week and surgery preparation tests.

The lawsuit states Randolph was admitted to Methodist for in-patient care for a severe infection in early August 2013, during which time Lisa Copeland visited and assisted him in getting his leave of absence and insurance paperwork submitted. However, according to the lawsuit, Schmidt had called Copeland the previous day to discuss Randolph's benefits options and she mentioned that Randolph did not qualify for Family and Medical Leave Act benefits, Reach did not maintain short-term disability insurance and Reach has been more than generous with his paid time off.

The complaint states Schmidt also told Copeland the company could not keep doing this so she would talk with their human resources representative and that Randolph could later obtain COBRA coverage. The plaintiff says these comments caused Copeland to worry that Schmidt planned to terminate plaintiff’s employment so she told Randolph on Aug. 7, 2013, when she visited him in the hospital after his surgery, that he was going to receive a call about his job.

Randolph says later that afternoon, Schmidt texted him about speaking with her and human resources, then called him on a speaker phone, and terminated him on the pretext that he was not accomplishing the tasks required for his job. The lawsuit states Schmidt proceeded to tell him his medical insurance was paid through Aug. 31, 2013, at which time he could go on COBRA.

Randolph says the reason for his termination was a pretext, and he was shocked as just a few days previous, the human resources representative had given him his leave of absence paperwork, indicating they planned to continue his employment. The defendant is accused of violating the Americans with Disability Act.

Randolph seeks actual, compensatory and punitive damages, including lost wages, benefits, attorney fees and interest. He is represented by attorneys Todd Slobin and Ricardo J. Prieto of Shellist, Lazarz and Slobin in Houston.

Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas case number: 4:14-CV-03109.

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