A former delivery driver for a Philadelphia-based kitchen and laundry products company has filed a federal lawsuit against his former employer alleging he was fired in retaliation for requesting a medical leave of absence.
In his complaint, which was filed March 2 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by New Jersey attorney Justin L. Swidler, Gerald Leonardi accuses Termac Corp. of violating the Family Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and Pennsylvania common law.
Leonardi, who was first hired by the company in September 2008, claims that his job was terminated in February 2011 for reasons the defendant expressly stated were related to Leonardi’s health.
The lawsuit states that Leonardi suffered from a seizure in late December 2010, an incident that required him to seek repeated medical treatment.
Doctors ordered Leonardi to not drive for a three-month period due to the fact that the seizure might return.
At this point, Leonardi took an unpaid leave of absence.
On Jan. 5, 2011, the suit states, Leonardi requested that the company place him on FMLA leave for three months, or transfer him to a non-driving warehouse position.
Termac told Leonardi that the company was not covered by the Family Medical Leave Act because it did not employ a sufficient number of employees and therefore did not have to cover him with FMLA leave, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit claims, however, that Tarmac does employ 50 or more employees making it an eligible employer under the FMLA.
The suit claims that Termac didn’t engage in a “good faith interactive process with Plaintiff or in any way attempt to accommodate Plaintiff,” when he asked for special accommodations like a non-driving warehouse position while he recovered from his health problems.
The lawsuit further states that the company continued to hire warehouse workers during this same time period, and could have simply transferred Leonardi to a warehouse position instead of having to hire a new worker from outside the company.
Leonardi was told his health insurance was being canceled in late January 2011. The suit claims that the defendant told Leonardi the reason for this was he had become a “liability” to the company’s insurance plan.
On Feb. 11, 2011, Leonardi was given a letter by the defendant stating he was being terminated because of his health.
Months after his termination, Leonardi suffered another seizure, the lawsuit states, which has caused him to not be able to seek out work as a driver.
The suit claims that had he not been fired, Leonardi would have been entitled to full employer-subsidized health insurance during his FMLA period.
As a result of his termination and health insurance loss, Leonardi has incurred large out-of-pocket expenses related to the treatment of his medical condition.
The lawsuit contains counts of retaliation and wrongful termination.
For each of the seven counts listed in the suit, Leonardi seeks unspecified compensatory, punitive and liquidated damages, in addition to attorney’s fees and other legal relief.
A jury trial has been demanded.
The federal case number is 2:12-cv-01135-EL.