School bus driver claims contract terminated because of cancer diagnosis

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Sep. 29, 2010, 3:22am

MARSHALL-A Nacogdoches school bus driver claims she lost her job due to her recent diagnosis of brain cancer and has filed a lawsuit against her former employer.

Claiming she was discriminated against in violation of her civil rights and violating the Family and Medical Leave Act, Angela Harless filed suit against Nacogdoches Independent School District on Sept. 22 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

Harless states she was fired from her position as a school bus driver because she exercised her right for leave due to her serious health condition and her disability.

According to court records, Harless worked as a school bus driver pursuant to an annual contract, which was automatically renewed at the end of the school year for the following school year.

She was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer in April 2009, and notified the school district. Less than a month later, Harless was told that her employment contract would not be renewed for the following school year.

After filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the defendant and Harless entered mediation, in which it was agreed that she would be rehired in August 2010. However, Harless states the defendant has neglected and refused to rehire her as agreed.

The defendant is accused of Family and Medical Leave Act discrimination, disability discrimination, race discrimination, COBRA violation, breach of contract, statutory violations of the Texas Labor Code and unlawful retaliation.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for humiliation, damage to reputation, lost wages, mental and emotional distress, exemplary damages, medical expenses, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, interest, court costs and attorneys' fees.

Harless is represented by Nicholas O'Kelly and Theodore Anderson of Kilgore & Kilgore in Dallas. Jury trial is requested.

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

Case No. 2:10cv00390

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