Lawsuit: GenOn discriminated against cancer-stricken employee

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Oct. 4, 2013, 3:01pm

HOUSTON - Alleging she involuntarily resigned from GenOn Energy Services LLC and GenOn Energy Inc. because of the mistreatment she received for having cancer, Harris County resident Joan Smith-Schrenk has pursued legal action.

Recent court papers filed Oct. 1 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas state that GenOn discriminated and harassed Smith-Schrenk after she requested to go on medical leave.

At the time of the subject events, the plaintiff worked as the company's manager of ethics and compliance, a position she assumed on March 29, 2010.

She first requested to go on Family Medical Leave Act-mandated respite in 2011.

Because the defendant refused to grant Smith-Schrenk permission, the suit says, the complainant was forced to postpone doctor visits as well as a procedure to remove a tumor on her neck.

It adds her superior took issue with her asking for time off - which she got - to look after her dying mother, who eventually passed away in April 2012.

The tumor on her neck required immediate removal, prompting the claimant to extend her leave.

Smith-Schrenk further asserts that GenOn ordered her to work while on leave "in contravention of its own policies and federal law" only to purportedly post her position on its Web site in late May.

After returning to duty in June, the plaintiff was reportedly subjected to an increasingly hostile work environment.

As a result, she tendered her resignation letter in which she outlined that she "could no longer work for the company due to the continuing discrimination and retaliation."

"Mrs. Smith-Schrenk was discriminated against and retaliated against based on her complaints of harassment and discrimination related to her disability and because she invoked FMLA leave," the original petition says.

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Martin A. Shellist of Shellist Lazarz Slobin LLP in Houston is representing the plaintiff.

Case No. 4:13-CV-2902

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