Woman claims HVAC contractor demoted her for taking maternity leave

By John Suayan | Nov 8, 2018

HOUSTON – A federal lawsuit accuses a local HVAC contractor of discriminating against a former employee for taking maternity leave last year.

Alleging that she wrongfully demoted in response to her pregnancy, Kara Lopez filed the suit against Airtron, Inc. on Nov. 7 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas.

Airtron employed Lopez for approximately a decade, “from 2008 to earlier this year.” She was employed as a service supervisor at the defendant’s location in northwest Houston.

According to the plaintiff, the business treated her with “unusual hostility” after she became pregnant in early 2017, but eventually approved her maternity leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.

Court documents further state that Lopez returned to work last January only to learn that Airtron “had given her job to another employee, who she had previously supervised.” Meanwhile, Lopez was demoted to contract administrator, a position the suit says “had never existed before at the Bingle Street location” and was targeted for elimination as one of 4,000 redundancies.

The suit asserts that the complainant was entitled to be restored to her old position or “an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment” under the FMLA.

Countering the respondent’s claim she requested the demotion, Lopez recalls being “compelled to mitigate her damages by taking a higher paying job with a different company.”

“Airtron violated the FMLA by interfering with Ms. Lopez’s rights under the FMLA when it failed to restore her to her prior position at the end of her FMLA leave and instead demoted her to an inferior position,” the original petition says.

Consequently, the plaintiff seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

She is represented by David C. Holmes of Houston.

Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas Case No. 4:18-CV-4228

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