Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ex-City Worker Says Disability Led to Firing

(CN) - The city of Savannah, Ga. wrongly fired an parking services division of employee after she developed chronic fatigue and sought an accommodation, the former employee claims in court.

In a Feb 16 complaint, Stefanie Wright says she began working as a revenue investigator for Savannah's Mobility and Parking Services Dept. in November 2011.

In addition to routine office administrative work, the agency allegedly required Wright to occasionally go out with a fellow investigator to boot illegally parked cars.

Wright says she was never disciplined or had any other problem at work until July 2013, when she developed symptoms of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and severe headaches.

She says as her condition worsened, her doctor gave her medication and treatment to alleviate the symptoms, and told her to take leave as necessary, and not to drive a vehicle.

Several months later, she received notice that her Family and Medical Leave Act time was nearly exhausted and thus she submitted a written request for "30 days additional intermittent leave, pursuant to City policy," according to the complaint in Chatham County, Ga.

Wright says her supervisor, Veleeta McDonald, denied her request and then required her "to submit to a fitness-for-duty examination at the City's clinic," which she took.

"Ms. Wright received a phone call from her supervisor Veleeta McDonald informing her that the City's Nurse Practitioner had concluded that Ms. Wright was not fit for duty" and terminated her employment.

Before she was let go from the position, she was informed of a new policy permitting only one employee per vehicle, but "the City's reasons for terminating Ms. Wright's employment are that Ms. Wright could not perform an essential job function and that Ms. Wright had exhausted the leave available to her under the FMLA. In fact, Ms. Wright had not exhausted her FMLA leave," the complaint says.

Wright claims that after she was fired she learned that the department resumed sending people out in the field in pairs, as she had originally done.

"We've got a bad actor in the supervisory role in the Parking Services Department of Savannah and similar conduct has occurred with other employees and, of course, there's been no indication that responsibility for the conduct will be accepted by the City," Wright's attorney, S. Wesley Woof, told Courthouse News.

"Not only is our client affected, but this sort of business can't be allowed to continue. We're hoping to get an acceptable outcome for our client and hope that that outcome will influence the conduct of the City and its supervisors and other employees similar situated," Woof said.

Wright says Savannah Mayor Edna Branch Jackson and the city's aldermen violated the Family and Medical Leave Act and the American Disabilities Act by approving her dismissal.

She is asking the court to reinstate her employment and to awarded her compensatory and punitive damages.

The city's public affairs office did not respond to a telephone call from Courthouse News seeking comment.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.