Suit alleges Kroger violated FMLA

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Oct. 17, 2011, 9:33am

SHERMAN - A grocery store associate manager has filed a lawsuit against her employer after she was terminated for failing to comply with the store's request of providing a third opinion regarding her requested medical leave.

Claiming violations of the Family & Medical Leave Act, Lisa D. Brock filed suit against The Kroger Co. on Oct. 5 in the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.

Brock worked for the defendant from Oct. 30, 2006, until she was terminated in May. At the time of her termination, she held the position of associate manager and was paid on a salary basis.

She argues that despite the fact she was a non-exempt employee due to the nature of her job duties, she was not paid at one-and-a-half times her regular rate of pay.

Brock injured her back on Jan. 15 while attempting to prepare a "Super Bowl of Caring" display.

On Jan. 20, Brock visited a chiropractor, who diagnosed her with lumbar and thoracic strains, the suit states.

Alleging she was pressured from her supervisor, Brock returned to work on Feb. 3. However, due to her doctor's recommendations, Brock requested medical leave starting March 28 and lasting through April 25; the request was later extended until May 31, according to the suit.

Kroger asked Brock to see a doctor in Kroger's provider network, who disagreed with Brock's request for a 30 day leave of absence. Kroger requested a third opinion before granting her medical leave. Kroger stated that if Brock didn't respond to their request, she had five days to return to work.

Brock responded that up to that point, she had seen five doctors and didn't feel it was appropriate for a "third opinion." She informed her employer that she would be following her doctor's orders and would remain off of work until May 31.

Around May 11, Brock was issued a letter stating that her leave of absence was denied and she was terminated.

The defendant is accused of violating the Family & Medical Leave Act and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The plaintiff is seeking an award of liquidated damages, attorney's fees, court costs and interest.

Brock is represented by Kerry O'Brien of the O'Brien Law Firm PC in Austin. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell is assigned to the case.

Case No. 4:11-cv-00639

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