Lawsuit alleges COM fired employee for taking leave for brain surgery

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Apr. 1, 2013, 7:46pm

GALVESTON - Complaining a local community college fired her last year shortly after she underwent brain surgery, Cheryl Odom seeks damages. 

Odom's lawsuit, filed Mar. 18 in Galveston federal court, targets the College of the Mainland in Texas City for alleged discrimination and wrongful termination.

COM employed the plaintiff as a Program Coordinator II in its teacher's certification program at the time of the events in question.

Recent court documents show Odom exercised her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 between Sept. 16, 2011, and Jan. 3, 2012, in relation to the aforementioned surgery and subsequent recovery process.

The plaintiff explains that she and the director of the respondent's continuing education program were at odds over a proposed transfer of duties and responsibilities before she went on leave, stating the latter enacted changes supposedly detrimental to the department afterwards.

According to the suit, Odom also learned that the director issued a negative work performance evaluation which apparently resulted in her position being placed on the budget chopping block.

It adds COM felt the complainant was not healthy enough nor qualified to which she argues is false, the suit says.

Odom asserts "she went from a competent employee to one being attacked immediately upon her return to work" after taking her FMLA-mandated absence.

The school terminated her on Apr. 30, 2012, as a part of a reduction in force; however, the suit insinuates that the move was a revenge tactic.

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Anthony P. Griffin of A Griffin Lawyers in Galveston is representing Odom.

Case No. 3:13-CV-0074

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