Epileptic worker blows whistle on Brighton Township’s employment actions

By Carol Ostrow | Nov 9, 2015

A Monaca citizen is suing his employer, a political jurisdiction, on charges of disability discrimination and violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Family Medical Leave Act.

Douglas Hiltz sued Brighton Township, based in Beaver, in the U.S. District Court Western District of Pennsylvania Sept. 22, claiming unlawful employment practices in December 2014.

According to the complaint, Hiltz was employed by the defendant from 1999 through December 2014 in its water and road departments. The plaintiff, who suffers from epileptic seizure disorder, states that his employer was aware of his disability since at least 2011 based on direct disclosure and occasional medical leave.

The suit states that when Hiltz was hospitalized for a grand mal seizure Nov. 16, 2014, his wife informed his employer of his condition; and the plaintiff himself contacted his foreman to notify him of an expected two-day absence. According to the grievance, the defendant terminated Hiltz “for excessive absenteeism” Nov. 20 despite documentation from the plaintiff’s neurologist validating his absence.

When it was pointed out that the decision was out of compliance with Pennsylvania law, the defendants allegedly reinstated Hiltz, immediately suspended him Nov. 24, and then fired him again Dec. 18.

Invoking the Rehabilitation Act, Hiltz charges the township with FMLA interference, discriminatory and retaliatory actions, claiming lost wages and benefits, emotional distress, humiliation and inconvenience.

The plaintiff seeks injunctive action, monetary damages equal to lost pay and benefits, reinstatement, compensatory damages for distress and anxiety, liquidated damages, interest, attorneys’ fees, and court costs. He is represented by Samuel J. Cordes & Associates in Pittsburgh.

U.S. District Western District of Pennsylvania 2:15-cv-01229-DSC

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