Harris County woman says hearing loss caused termination

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Oct 8, 2012

HOUSTON - Complaining Avaya Inc. fired her because of her age and failing hearing, Harris County resident Esther McHenry has filed a lawsuit. 

Recent court papers filed Oct. 4 in Houston federal court claim the respondent gradually mistreated McHenry upon learning of her disability before terminating her.

The plaintiff began her employment with Nortel Networks, the respondent's predecessor, in April 1995.

She left for an unspecified amount of time, but returned to the company and assumed a channel sales representative position in September 2003.

Avaya purchased Nortel in 2009 and hired the complainant to the position of channel account manager II.

The original petition states McHenry experienced "a sudden hearing loss" supposedly due to frequent business travel and "the combination of airline flights and sinus illness combined in such a fashion that she could barely hear" in May 2011.

Her employer was informed about her ordeal the next month, but by September of the same year, her supervisor "was not returning her calls and began treating her differently than he had previously during her employment."

McHenry says she did not understand why there was a change in said supervisor's attitude, asserting her hearing loss did not stop her from scoring high in product and service sales.

Avaya notified the complainant in October 2011 that it would reduce its workforce and "she would be losing her job."

The suit argues the defendant had decided to add 40 field representatives after her apparent dismissal.

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Nasim Ahmad with Cline Ahmad in The Woodlands is representing McHenry.

Case No. 4:12-cv-2975

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