Mom of autistic child sues employer after losing job for taking leave

By Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau | Jul 18, 2011

TYLER - The mother of an autistic child has filed a lawsuit against her employer after she was fired for taking unapproved intermittent leave to transport her child to his doctor's visits and therapy.

Arguing violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Tomeka White filed suit against Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services on July 5 in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division.

Tomeka White, a black female, was employed by the defendant in its Tyler office from June 1, 2009, until Oct. 1, 2010. White's son suffers from autism and White had requested intermittent leave in order to transport her son to and from his doctor's visits.

White states that she was allowed to transport her son to his therapy early in her career with the defendant. According to the lawsuit, White's supervisor ceased allowing White this privilege after a White wrote a "less than positive" evaluation about her supervisor's management style, including racial discrimination allegations.

In August 2010, White requested intermittent FMLA leave to transport her son to and from his therapy. One of the defendant's human resource managers denied the request, stating that she did not believe autism is covered under FMLA.

White was terminated Nov. 18 relating to her ongoing request for intermittent leave.

The defendant is accused of violating the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and White's civil rights.

The plaintiff is asking for an award of actual damages, including lost income and health benefits, liquidated damages, attorney's fees, costs, punitive damages, and interest.

White is represented by Robert E. Goodman Jr. of Kilgore & Kilgore in Dallas. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider is assigned to the case.

Case No. 6:11-cv-00345

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