Hospital employee sues over denial of FMLA

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Aug. 21, 2012, 7:12am

Kingwood Medical Center

HOUSTON - Montgomery County resident Tracie Mills has filed suit against KPH Consolidation Inc., alleging it prevented her from getting Family Medical Leave Act clearance for her leukemia.

A lawsuit submitted July 30 before Houston federal court states the defendant, doing business as Kingwood Medical Center, terminated her once she received approval.

The original petition shows Mills "had the misfortune of having her cancer recur while employed at this hospital last year," however, one of the respondent's directors "immediately started trying to remove her from the workplace permanently."

The illness required the plaintiff to visit M.D. Anderson Cancer Center weekly, prompting her to work hard "to switch shifts with other employees so that she would have the time available for this purpose," but the director disapproved and blocked her efforts, the suit says.

Mills proceeded to file for intermittent FMLA leave.

According to court papers, the plaintiff was later sent home though she felt fine and performed her work without difficulty and was instructed to obtain a note from her doctor stating that "he understood that she worked at a hospital on a medical/surgical unit and that he was okay with that."

They further assert that Mills acquired a letter, but the defendant continuously refused to allow her to return to work, adding she "was understandably upset at this pattern."

The defendant's human resources director intervened and granted her request to be back on duty.

Meanwhile, Mills's application for FMLA leave was approved, but the respondent fired the complainant shortly afterwards on grounds "an employee was rude in answering a call over the call light system," which the suit refutes was not true on Mills's part.

She believes the apparent firing proceeded "without even the pretense of an investigation" and was a way for the defendant to deny her leave.

Consequently, Mills seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Attorney Katherine L. Butler of Houston is representing the complainant.

Case No. 4:12-cv-2273

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