Woman accuses employer of discrimination

By Annie Cosby | Jan 12, 2015

A Harris County woman is suing over claims she was unlawfully forced to quit when her employer refused to accommodate her after surgery.

Theresa J. Nalty filed a lawsuit Oct. 21 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas against Aquatic Care Programs Inc., citing employment discrimination.

According to the complaint, July 1, 2012, Nalty, a licensed physical therapist, was hired by the defendant, which is in the business of physical therapy and rehabilitation using a mixture of dry land and pool therapy and is a "no lift" facility, meaning physical therapists are not required to be lifting patients in or out of the pool. Nalty says she was attracted to this aspect of the program since she had previously sustained injuries in a car accident that prevented her from lifting patients and disclosed these limitations to Aquatic before they hired her.

The complaint states that Nalty's condition worsened, requiring surgery, in July 2013, of which she informed her supervisor, Trisha Biasotti, and that she would require limited duties for a healing period after the surgery. According to the lawsuit, Biasotti immediately began a plan to force Nalty out of Aquatic, unbeknownst to her.

The complaint states Biasotti began improperly deducting Nalty's accrued personal time off and then placed her on part-time on the basis that she wasn't working a full week, which allowed Biasotti to take Nalty's health insurance benefits and go so far as to personally drive to the hospital to inform Nalty she no longer had health insurance immediately before her surgery.

Nalty says that after the surgery, she attempted to return to work and meet with Biasotti to discuss modified work responsibilities that would allow her neck to heal, but Biasotti refused and indicated that Nalty was now "a liability."

The complaint states Biasotti would not allow Nalty to work at all until there were no limitations and took all her work hours, which allowed Biasotti to cease paying Nalty any salary or benefits due to already having placed her on part-time.

Nalty says she was forced to seek employment elsewhere but then noticed that during the time she was receiving a salary, Aquatic had made deductions for time off, including instances of "forced" times where Aquatic closed their offices, which violated the employee handbook.

The defendant is accused of discrimination against disability and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Nalty seeks compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees. She is represented by attorney M. Kevin Powers of Porter & Powers in Houston.

Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas case number: 4:14-CV-02983

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