John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Dec. 6, 2012, 1:35pm

GALVESTON - An airline that is the focus of a wrongful termination lawsuit has filed an original answer. 

Recent court papers submitted by ExpressJet Airlines Inc. on Nov. 26 formally deny ex-flight attendant Racquel Martin's allegations she was fired for displaying symptoms associated with migraine headaches.

Martin filed suit against the company in September after her termination for allegedly sleeping on the job on Nov. 24, 2011, stating the defendant put her to work though it knew she was sick.

According to the complainant, she worked the first flight of the day “but became even more ill because of her migraine.”

Her condition “quickly worsened” on the second flight as “her vision became blurry and she felt as if she was going to pass out,” the suit says.

ExpressJet fired the plaintiff on Dec. 2, 2011, “for allegedly giving the appearance of sleeping on the aircraft” though she insists “the defendant was aware that (she) was not sleeping but ill because of her disability.”

The airline's nine-page answer asserts Martin "took actions inconsistent with such allegations" and her claims were asserted outside of the applicable statute of limitations.

It argues ExpressJet "did not act in willful or reckless disregard of the plaintiff's federally protected rights," stating it "made good faith efforts to comply with employment discrimination laws."

ExpressJet's actions regarding the complainant's employment were motivated by legitimate business reasons, and "it would have reached the same employment decisions in the absence of any discriminatory or retaliatory motive," the response says.

The defendant further contends that Martin improperly exercised her Family Medical Leave Act rights.

Attorney Buena Vista Lyons with FordHarrison LLP in Dallas is representing ExpressJet.

Case No. 4:12-CV-2707

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