TEXAS CITY — A federal lawsuit accuses College of the Mainland in Texas City of wrongfully terminating an employee after she had brain surgery.
Attorney Anthony P. Griffin filed suit last month on behalf of Cheryl Odom, a former coordinator with the college’s teacher certification program.
The lawsuit filed March 18 in Galveston’s federal court accused the college of retaliating against Odom for her use of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
A spokeswoman for the college declined to comment Wednesday.
The act allows eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 weeks each year of unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The college hired Odom in 2003, and she took leave under the act from Sept. 16, 2011, to Jan. 3, 2012, to have brain surgery and to allow for recovery, the lawsuit states.
Although reduction in force was the purported reason for Odom’s termination, she contends she was fired because she used the act to take time off from work, the lawsuit claims.
Before Odom used the act, she had no adverse performance evaluations, but about a month after returning to work, she received a negative evaluation listing 31 problems with her performance, the lawsuit claims.
The problems were coupled with the redaction of documents from Odom’s personnel file that referenced her possessing a master’s degree in education, the lawsuit claims.
Odom went from being a competent employee to being attacked immediately upon her return by evaluations, budget moves and emails discussing her medical condition and leave, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit accuses the college of hiring others to fill Odom’s duties, retaining others less qualified and failing to consider her for positions for which she qualified.
The lawsuit seeks back and future wages and benefits, among other things.