Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Oct. 1, 2012, 3:33pm

A Sabine County Hospital worker has filed a lawsuit that claims she was fired during medical leave and replaced by a non-black person.

Claiming racial discrimination, Patreal Hutchinson filed suit against Preferred Hospital Leasing Hemphill Inc., doing business as Sabine County Hospital, on Sept. 4 in the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

According to the lawsuit, Hutchinson was injured on the job at the Sabine County Hospital on May 11, 2011, took medical leave, and filed a worker’s compensation claim.

By Aug. 3, 2011, Hutchinson was being prepared to return to work with a light duty restriction. She told the defendant that she could perform the duties of her position as Respiratory Therapist/Activities Director, but was terminated from her position.

Hutchinson states that she was initially told she was terminated because her medical leave had expired, then told that the hospital was doing away with her position.

She argues that after she was terminated, the defendant hired a non-black person for her position.

The defendant is accused of violating the Texas Labor Code and racial and disability discrimination by violating Hutchinson’s civil rights.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for back pay, reinstatement or front pay, compensatory damages for emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, exemplary damages, attorney fees and court costs.

Hutchinson is represented by Kenneth W. Lewis and Stephen L. Townsend of Bush Lewis PLLC in Beaumont.

U.S. District Judge Ron Clark is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:12-cv-00434

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