Employee claims health care facility failed to accommodate her disability

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Dec. 19, 2011, 6:26am

TYLER - An East Texas health care facility is being sued by a former employee who alleges the facility failed to provide equipment to accommodate her disability.

Claiming violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Debra Ellen Cohen filed suit against University of Texas Health Science Center, University Health Science Center at Tyler, and Center for Clinical Research on Dec. 5 in the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the lawsuit, Cohen began working for the defendants sometime in 2010. The plaintiff suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, "which primarily affected her smaller joints, e.g., her hands and feet, and it substantially limited a number of major life activities," the suit states.

Cohen states she requested an accommodation that included voice recognition software that could alleviate the need for her to type as much. She claims she made the request in May, which the Center failed to accommodate. She states she was demoted in early June and discharged effective August 2010.

The defendants are accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing or refusing to accommodate Cohen's disability, demoting and discharging Cohen, and retaliation.

The plaintiff is seeking an award of damages for back pay and employment benefits, interest on back pay, front pay and future economic benefits, pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, interest, and attorney's fees.

Cohen is represented by Sulphur Springs attorney Wade A. Forsman. A jury trial is requested.

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

Case No. 6:11-cv-00650

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