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Denton County woman files discrimination claim against owner of storage facility

By Andrea Dearden | Sep 12, 2014

Nicholas okelly

A Denton County woman alleges her former employer fired her because an on-the-job injury left her partially disabled. 

Cynthia Ormiston filed the discrimination complaint against Strategic Capital Holdings and TriNet HR Corp. on Aug. 11 in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas.  Ormiston says she was hired by Northwest Highway Self-Storage, a division of Strategic Capital Holdings, in June 2009. As lead associate, she says she was responsible for greeting customers, processing rental agreements for storage space and directing people to the proper units. In addition to hourly pay, Ormiston was given a home to live in on the property. 

In June 2010, Ormiston says Strategic Capital Holdings hired TriNet HR to manage its workforce. As part of the transition, Ormiston says she was interviewed by two TriNet managers and hired to continue her duties as the lead associates for an increased hourly wage and benefits. She continued to live in the company-provided home. 

On June 27, 2011, Ormiston says she suffered an on-the-job injury that caused damage to her shoulder and hand. She says she continued to work until November 2011 when she underwent surgery. 

According to the lawsuit, the surgery on Ormiston's shoulder was only partially successful. Her arm and shoulder were diagnosed by a physician as being "permanently partially disabled." Ormiston says she cannot lift any significant weight with her right arm and "suffers a constant tingling sensation" which "prevents her from doing any typing or writing over an extended period." 

Following the surgery, Ormiston returned to work with medical restrictions that prohibited her from heavy lifting, typing, operating heavy equipment or walking any extended distance. She says she worked with those restrictions for 2 1/2 months before the defendants allegedly began to disregard the restrictions. Ormiston says her injuries became agitated. 

Ormiston says she again presented a doctor's note explaining the limitations to her employer. She says TriNet district manager Dale Bennett refused to allow her return to work and, instead, told her to ask the doctor to change the restriction to read "cannot return to work." 

Ormiston says she then spoke with Strategic Capital Holdings regional manager John Carbio who told her he wanted her to continue working at the Northwest Highway facility as district manager. Carbio allegedly told Ormiston she was already performing many of the district manager functions that that it would not interfere with her medical restrictions. He told her the promotion would happen in early September 2012, according to the lawsuit. 

On Sept. 7, 2012, Ormiston says she was asked to meet with two TriNet employees who told her she was being fired, effective immediately, "because she could no longer type of lift heavy objects." They allegedly told Ormiston that Carabio knew about and supported her termination. She says the defendants never offered any alternative accommodations that would have allowed her to perform the essential functions of her job. She says she remains partially disabled and has been unable to find another job. 

Ormiston accuses Strategic Capital Holdings and TriNet of disability discrimination. She is asking for actual, exemplary and statutory damages to compensate for lost wages and benefits, inconvenience, pain and suffering. 

Attorney Nicholas A. O'Kelley of Kilgore & Kilgore in Dallas represents Ormiston. A jury trial is demanded. 

The case number is Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas case 4:14-cv-00522-RC-ALM.
This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt and it represents only one side of the story.

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