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  • Writer's pictureKirstin Kennedy

PA woman alleged employer fired her for taking FMLA leave to recover from eye surgery

Updated: May 15, 2020

For immediate release

PHILADELPHIA – A Philadelphia woman has files a lawsuit against her former employer alleging that she was fired for taking a medically necessary leave to recover from eye surgery.

According to a civil complaint filed in the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, Plaintiff Tyneisha Fowlkes was hired as a Registered Nurse for Caring Heart & Rehab Nursing Center in September 2009. After several years of employment, in February 2014, Ms. Fowlkes suffered from a detached retina, which significantly impacted her vision, according to the complaint. Ms. Fowlkes alleged in the filing that, despite her injury, she was able to continue working with some accommodation from the employer in terms of her need to receive medical treatments.

According to the complaint, Ms. Fowlkes underwent two separate eye surgeries in 2014 and 2015. Then, in August 2018, she was informed by her doctor that a third surgery was required as a result of mounting pressure on her eye. Ms. Fowlkes alleged that she requested a leave of absence through the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 for the period of August 27 through September 30, 2018. According to the complaint, this leave was necessary in order for her to fully recover from the surgery.

Shortly after she returned to work following her FMLA leave, Ms. Fowlkes learned that the pressure in her eye had not stabilized, requiring another surgery in late November 2018. She alleged that she, again, requested time off for the subsequent surgery through FMLA. However, according to the complaint, Ms. Fowlkes was placed on suspension by Caring Heart & Rehab Nursing Center on November 19, 2018 for allegedly failing to fully admit a patient before the end of her shift. This suspension occurred six days prior to her scheduled leave.

According to the complaint, Ms. Fowlkes was not cleared by her doctor to return to work before January 2019. During her leave, she reached out to the Human Resources Department at Caring Heart & Rehab Nursing Center to discuss the remainder of her FMLA period. Ms. Fowlkes was then informed that she had been terminated on December 27, 2018 for an act of insubordination, according to the complaint.

Ms. Fowlkes alleged in the filing that she had never before received any work-related disciplinary action, nor had she previously been informed of her termination.

In the two-count complaint, it is alleged that Caring Heart & Rehab Nursing Center violated both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. According to the filing, Ms. Fowlkes was discriminated against for her disability and subsequently faced retaliation by Caring Heart & Rehab Nursing Center for her need to take time off related to her medical issue. Prior to the filing of the lawsuit, Ms. Fowlkes filed a complaint through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was provided a right to sue.

Ruppert Manes Narahari is a Pittsburgh-based employment law firm representing workers who have been wrongfully terminated, harassed, or cheated by their employers. The firm also provides business law-related services and represents small businesses and entrepreneurs in startup, transactional, and litigation matters.

For more information on the claims made by Ms. Fowlkes against Caring Heart & Rehab Nursing Center, contact the law office of Ruppert Manes Narahari at 412-626-5626.


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