Monday, July 29, 2013

Former flight attendant takes Southwest Airlines to court for wrongful termination: Southeast Texas' Legal Journal

HOUSTON – A Harris County woman has taken Southwest Airlines Co. to court in the wake of her termination last year, recent court documents say.

Lisa Lyerly accuses the airliner of firing her because of her purportedly poor health, originally filing a lawsuit against her former employer in Harris County District Court last month.

Houston federal court received the case on July 19.

The suit explains that Lyerly, who worked for Southwest as a flight attendant from February 1995 to September 2012, suffers from diabetes as well as bipolar disorder and depression.

Such conditions, however, do not prevent the plaintiff from performing her essential job functions, it adds.

Beginning in late March 2010 with the death of her father, Lyerly’s mental health reportedly took a turn for the worse, and she was forced to take time off from work so she could be hospitalized early last year.

According to the suit, Southwest terminated the complainant upon her return, but reinstated her only to keep the 11 attendance penalty points it assessed against her “for the time she took off for her hospitalization and for taking earlier time off for depression and related mental and physical conditions.”

The defendant fires employees who accumulate 12 attendance penalty points in a quarterly period though “this written policy is not applied equally to all flight attendants.”

Lyerly further shows she suffered a severe foot infection in early September 2012, and it was around the same time Southwest notified her that she had 27 Family Medical Leave Act-mandated days remaining.

Later that month, after reporting to work four minutes late because of inclement weather, the respondent dismissed her for supposedly amassing 12 attendance penalty points and violating its attendance policies.

The suit contends that “the true reason or another reason for her termination was due to disability discrimination, failure of reasonable accommodation for her disability and violations of the” FMLA.

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Steven E. Petrou of Cypress is representing the plaintiff.

Case No. 4:13-CV-2137