East Texas man alleges leave for cancer treatment resulted in termination by employer

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau May 6, 2009, 9:13am

MARSHALL � After being employed by Tyler Roofing Co. for more than 10 years as a residential manager, Jeffrey Harris states he was terminated because he had to miss work to receive cancer treatments.

Arguing violation of the Family Medical Leave Act, Harris filed suit against Tyler Roofing on May 4 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Harris states that in March 2008, he was diagnosed with stage-four colon and liver cancer and immediately hospitalized for treatment. He claims he informed his employer and was out on medical leave until the doctor cleared him to work in May 2008.

When Harris returned to work with a full doctor's release, he says he was informed that he would no longer be considered a salaried employee and would be paid hourly to answer phone calls.

According to the complaint, Tyler Roofing's president and CEO told Harris that he was being terminated "because he was not able to work 40 hours a week due to chemo treatments and doctor visits."

The lawsuit alleges the plaintiff is an individual with a "disability" as defined by the American Disabilities Act and that he has a physical impairment that substantially limits one or more of his major life activities.

Harris maintains that with "reasonable accommodation" he can perform the essential functions of his job as residential manager.

"Despite requests, Tyler Roofing Co. refused to make reasonable accommodation to plaintiff," the complaint states.

The plaintiff asks the court to find that he suffered from acts of disability discrimination and that he suffered from a deliberate decision to terminate his employment based on necessary medical treatment and doctor visits.

The lawsuit is seeking damages for back pay with monetary benefits and interests, lost future wages, compensatory damages, attorney fees and exemplary damages.

Tyler attorney William S. Hommel Jr. is representing the plaintiff.
Jury trial demanded.

The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge T. John Ward.

Case No 2:09cv133

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