Store Manager Says He Was Fired Over Anxiety

     CENTERAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CN) – A former Rite Aid worker claims in court he was axed for taking time off to address the anxiety caused by his promotion to manager at a bigger store.
     Joseph Ferraro says he started work as a shift supervisor at a Rite Aid in Farmingville, New York in 2007.
     He was promoted to manage a store in Rocky Point, New York, then was quickly sent to manage a larger store in nearby Mattituck in 2012.
     But Ferraro soon “started feeling overwhelmed because of the size of the store and lack of employees,” he says in his 17-page complaint.
     He says he started to feel the physical manifestations of his anxiety, including weight loss and night sweats.
     Ferraro’s claims his repeated requests to step down were ignored, so he soldiered on.
     Ferraro then went on medications in August 2013 after talking about wanting to die.
     He was ultimately given a week off, but with hostility, Ferraro says.
     Ferraro says he was told by district manager, defendant Frank Peterson, that managers weren’t allowed to take unscheduled time and that he should’ve planned sooner for his leave in advance.
     “Plaintiff felt that his job was being threatened and he was intimidated by Mr. Peterson’s hostile response to his reasonable request for medical leave to treat his disability,” he says.
     “As a result, plaintiff initially told Mr. Peterson that he was giving his two weeks’ notice and that during the two weeks, he would apply for disability leave,” according to the complaint.
     He then got an extra two weeks from his doctor, and took his FMLA leave on Sept. 11, 2013, which was to continue through Sept. 30.
     But he was then terminated based on the false presumption that he had an altercation with his boss.
     “Defendants’ purported reason to terminate plaintiff was simply a pretext for unlawful discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and the New York State Human Rights Law,” he says.
     Rite Aid declined to comment on the lawsuit Tuesday.
     Ferraro seeks unspecified damages as well as back and front pay.
     He is represented by Robert J. Valli with Valli Kane & Vagnini LLP.

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