DES MOINES (CN) – A general store fired a manager who needed time off work to recover from the shock of having to call police to find an employee’s newborn twins, dead, the manager claims in court.
Teresa Anderson sued Casey’s General Stores and Casey’s Marketing Company, in Federal Court. They are the only parties to the complaint.
Anderson claims in the lawsuit that her employee, nonparty Jackie Burkle, looked obviously pregnant in the winter of 2011-12, but denied it.
Burkle “was charged and arrested for two counts of murder in the first degree of her two baby girls,” Anderson says in the lawsuit.
Burkle pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced in August 2012 to 50 years in prison, according to the Ames (Iowa) Tribune.
Anderson says in the lawsuit that Burkle called in sick in the early morning of Jan. 7, 2012, and that, “believing Ms. Burkle was likely going into labor,” Anderson went to work to cover her shift and “pleaded with her to let her take her to the doctor.”
Burkle refused, Anderson says.
The lawsuit continues: “Believing something was wrong, plaintiff called the police chief and asked him to come to the store for a cup of coffee.
“Plaintiff showed Chief Pote surveillance video of Ms. Burkle.
“At approximately 1:00 p.m. a police officer started looking through Casey’s Dumpsters.
“The next day, on January 8, 2012, she learned that the ‘baby’ she suspected Ms. Burkle was pregnant with was actually twins and that they were dead.”
Chief Pote found the babies dead in the trunk of Burkle’s car after questioning her, according to the Ames Tribune.
Anderson says in the lawsuit that she is the mother of twins and the incident made her “extremely upset.”
When she told her district manager what had happened, she says, he “told her she was too emotional and too maternal.” She says the manager “told her that this was not a Casey’s issue.”
On Jan. 9, Anderson says, she “was completely overwhelmed and slightly paranoid about Ms. Burkle attempting to retaliate against her for calling the police.”
She says she requested and received a police escort to and from work on Jan. 9 and 10.
Totally stressed out, Anderson says, she left work to see a psychiatrist on Jan. 9 and then went to human resources at the corporate office, to explain “the situation and the need for help for her employees and herself.”
“Plaintiff was again told this was not a Casey’s issue,” she says in the lawsuit.
Less than 30 minutes later, the district manager left her a voicemail saying he would see her at the store the next day. On Jan. 10 he reprimanded her told her that Casey’s “could have fired her,” Anderson says.
She says she cried throughout the meeting “and believed they were trying to make her quit.”
Burkle was arrested and charged with murder on or about Jan. 11, according to the lawsuit.
“The stress of the situation of being the one to report Ms. Burkle to the police, the lack of support she received by management and the threats that her job was now at stake, was simply too much for plaintiff to handle,” Anderson says in the complaint.
She saw her therapist on Jan. 12 and 13, and the therapist told her she needed to take time off work. When she told her boss, he replied: “Who is going to do the books while you are gone?” according to the complaint.
“Just a few hours after she returned from FMLA leave,” Anderson says, the district manager fired her.
She seeks damages for violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
She is represented by Jill Zwagerman, with the Newkirk Law Firm.
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