Postal clerk sues Postal Service for violation of medical leave rights

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Sep. 19, 2011, 11:21am

TYLER - The U.S. Postal Service is being sued by a postal clerk after a supervisor requested more information about the clerk's demand to take a third medical leave.

Sandra Kay Gilbert filed suit against Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe and the USPS on Sept. 14 in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division.

According to the suit, Gilbert has worked for the USPS for approximately 28 years. She states she began experiencing medical problems in October 2010 and took time off for a medical procedure. She was off of work for approximately a month, the suit states.

Shortly after returning to work, she learned the medical problem was not resolved and she had to have a second procedure and took a second medical leave. When she returned to work, she placed a Family Medical Leave Act request for leave for dependent care of her husband, for a surgery he was required to have. According to the lawsuit, she still had FMLA leave available and requested approximately two weeks to care for her husband.

Her supervisor requested that Gilbert provide a doctor's note stating why she needed to be off and why she needed to take care of her husband. Gilbert stated she informed her supervisor that providing that information was in violation of her rights.

Gilbert was given leave without pay and instructed to provide documentation sufficient to demonstrate that her husband would be totally incapacitated.

Gilbert alleges that because she took protected family medical leave she was threatened, subjected to a pre-disciplinary conference which is the first step of a progressive discipline within the USPS, was documented as being on leave without pay which is deemed as negative and was not paid when she had leave available to take.

The defendant is accused of interfering with Gilbert's Family and Medical Leave Act rights and retaliating against her for exercising and attempting to exercise her rights under FMLA.

The plaintiff is asking the court to issue a permanent injunction to prevent further FMLA violations and for an award of compensatory damages, wages, salary, employment benefits, other lost compensation, court costs, attorneys' fees and interest.

Gilbert is represented by Rebecca L. Fisher of Rebecca L. Fisher & Associates in McGregor.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider is assigned to the case.

Case No. 6:11-cv-00485

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