A fired tollbooth worker claims in a newly filed civil action that he was
terminated from his job with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission because he had to take time off of work due to a back injury.
Philadelphia resident Bryant Lee, who was first hired by the commission in the spring of 2008 as a supplemental toll collector, is suing over his July 2012 firing, which he was told was due to the fact that supervisors discovered a shortage in his cash till.
Lee denies that accusation, and asserts that he was actually fired from his job because he had to take frequent days off from work due to severe back problems.
The plaintiff’s health problems began with a work-related injury he suffered in 2010, the lawsuit states.
Complications from the injury soon arose, including degenerative disc disease, which severely limits Lee’s ability to perform certain tasks, such as sitting or standing for long periods of time.
Lee claims that he was instructed to work an eight-hour overtime shift in late June 2011, despite the fact that he protested because of his back problems.
He says he ended up having to leave work four hours into that shift.
The Turnpike Commission then terminated Lee’s employment for a period of one-month until the plaintiff was reinstated on Aug. 1, 2011, through his union appeal process.
At that point, the complaint says, Lee was placed on a probationary period.
In late 2011, Lee gave his employer a doctor’s note verifying that his back-related disabilities would cause him to need to take intermittent days off of work.
Lee was soon granted intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
At this point, Lee provided the defendant with updated medical certifications requesting two special accommodations: that he no longer be forced to work overtime and that he be given a chair that would better support his back than the stool on which he typically sat.
The requests were denied, and Lee found himself once again facing additional back problems following a vehicle accident.
The complaint says that management did not inform Lee of his right to block FMLA leave.
Lee’s employment was terminated on July 23, 2012, while he was still out of work recuperating from his accident injuries.
At that point, Lee was told he was being fired because of the discovered register shortages.
The complaint says that employees were often given the opportunity to pay back register shortages in lieu of being subjected to disciplinary action, but that that was not afforded to the plaintiff.
“Instead, Plaintiff was terminated because Defendant was attempting to formulate any excuse to terminate Plaintiff based upon his medical issues and leave time,” the lawsuit reads.
The defendant is accused of violating the FMLA, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
Lee seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, along with legal costs.
He is being represented by Bensalem, Pa. attorney Karpf Karpf & Cerutti.
The federal case number is 2:14-cv-00933.