RN claims she was terminated during maternity leave, sues Mainland Medical

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Apr. 16, 2012, 11:23am


GALVESTON – Claiming her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act were violated, a registered nurse has filed suit against Mainland Medical Center.

Brazoria County resident Ashton Lynn DelBello filed the suit March 29 in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas against Danforth Hospital Inc., Mainland Medical Center Auxiliary Inc., CHCA Mainland L.P. and CHCA Clear Lake L.P.

According to the lawsuit, Mainland Medical Center terminated DelBello for being "inactive," although she received FMLA clearance to deliver her baby daughter.

DelBello, who had worked as a registered nurse at the facility since 2008, claims she received high marks on her performance reviews and was never threatened with termination or suspension or subjected to disciplinary action, the suit states.

DelBello became pregnant in June 2010 with a delivery date of Feb. 18, 2011.

Her superiors, chief nursing officer Kelly Nations and nursing director Shannon Warnen, were immediately notified of her pregnancy, but DelBello learned she was not eligible for FMLA coverage or given the proper paperwork to complete, so she continued working her normal schedule with regular hours while expecting.

The plaintiff submitted her final schedule covering the first two weeks of February 2011 on around late January 2011.

At the same time, she began to experience contractions, which repeated as she worked a shift on Feb. 8, 2011.

Warnen authorized DelBello to start her leave the same day, telling the plaintiff to not "worry" about the days she was scheduled to work.

DelBello gave birth on Feb. 25, 2011.

DelBello claims she notified the defendants of her intention to return to work and made arrangements to come back on May 10, 2011.

At the same time, the defendants underwent a merger that resulted in their employees obtaining new uniforms and badges during DelBello's absence.

She claims she called the human resources department to talk about her return on May 9, 2011, but was told of her "inactive" status despite her leave and Warnen's refusal to change it.

According to the lawsuit, a letter dated May 2, 2011, and postmarked May 10, 2011, informed DelBello that she was dismissed because she was a non-utilized PRN, but the suit argues she met FMLA guidelines in which she had been employed by the respondents for at least a year and amassed approximately 1,250 hours of service during the 12 months prior to her request to take leave.

DelBello seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

The Law Office of G. Scott Fiddler PC is representing the DelBello.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt is presiding over the case.

Case No. 3:12-cv-0096

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