Female Employee Suffers Stroke due to Escalating Stress of Corporate Employer’s Illegal Behavior
As a woman and an employee associated with a child with a perceived disability, plaintiff “H” experienced discrimination, retaliation, and harassment at the hands of her employer, a major international corporation. In 2012, H’s employer was aware that H’s son needed to attend on-going medical appointments to diagnose and treat a behavioral disorder. The employer never informed H of her right to twelve weeks of family and medical leave under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”).
Some months later, H requested a schedule accommodation to enable her to attend medical appointments with her son. The employer ignored her request for accommodation for almost four months, and then denied it. Instead, the employer switched her schedule to one where she would spend the least amount of time with her son. They also began to document every occasion where they considered H late, even if only by minutes, including those occasions when H’s employer had pre-approved a late arrival or an absence.
H complained of discrimination and harassment to her employer. Despite having a duty to investigate H’s complaints of discrimination and harassment, her employer chose not to investigate. Instead, H’s employer labeled her complaints “silly,” criticized H’s attendance and performance, and placed additional burdens on her that were not placed on other employees, including that H seek pre-approval for the scheduling of her son’s critically important medical appointments.
The escalating stress from the employer’s illegal behavior caused H to rupture a cerebral aneurysm, which led to a brain bleed and stroke. H and her husband filed a lawsuit against H’s employer and supervisor. They alleged violations of the CFRA and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”); negligent hiring, supervision and retention; and loss of consortium.
H was hospitalized for weeks, and spent months learning to walk and talk again. H suffered paralysis and speech impairment that permanently impair her ability to work, mobility, relationships, and quality of life.
Defendants contended that they did not discriminate, retaliate, harass, or interfere with H’s rights under CFRA or FEHA. Defendants also blamed the ruptured aneurysm on stress created by other life-style factors.
During jury selection, the parties settled for a significant, confidential monetary award. The resolution included an 85% reduction of the ERISA medical lien.