Substance abuse counselor claims termination due to epilepsy

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Aug. 21, 2012, 7:20am


HOUSTON - Alleging The Turning Point Inc. terminated her because she suffers from epilepsy, Sharon E. Cloud has filed a lawsuit.

Recent court documents filed July 30 in the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division claim the defendant was not sensitive toward her medical condition, stating it instead discriminated against her.

Cloud came on board at The Turning Point, a substance abuse treatment facility, as a substance abuse counselor late last year.

The suit shows Cloud's epilepsy "is generally controllable through the use of medication," but can be exacerbated by stressful environments leading to a seizure.

She claims she notified Turning Point's human resources department at the time of her hiring "for the purpose of confirming that her epilepsy would not be excluded from medical coverage as a pre-existing condition."

Cloud states she was transferred upon her request to the Lynchner State Jail in Humble only for another counselor to "(make) matters worse by interacting with the inmates and then requesting that they follow up with Ms. Cloud, frequently with requests that were unreasonable."

The co-worker's actions reportedly caused the inmates to act unruly, which affected the complainant's epilepsy.

Cloud unsuccessfully sought a transfer after an oncoming seizure and was even yelled at while she was exhibiting one of the relatively common symptoms associated with a seizure, the suit says.

The suit states Turning Point reported to the Texas Workforce Commission that the plaintiff was acting belligerent though she "has no recollection of any of these allegations."

"Ms. Cloud cannot admit that these events transpired," the suit says. "However, all of this described behavior, including the fact that Ms. Cloud does not recall them, are consistent with seizure symptoms, partial seizure symptoms and/or post-seizure symptoms."

Both parties discussed the alleged outburst, with Cloud insisting she did not remember the episode.

She was subsequently terminated because of her behavior, but the suit counters the dismissal "was a pretext for Turning Point's discriminatory and retaliatory reasons."

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

Attorney Alan Quiles with The Quiles Law Firm P.C. in Houston is representing the plaintiff.

Case No. 4:12-cv-2282

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