Miffed Consultant Sues AON for Firing Her After Taking an Eight Week Leave for Anxiety

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The former Senior Benefits Consultant was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of 24. She started working at AON Service Corporation in May of 2015, but was canned for alleged “performance issues” by Fall of 2016.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court, she says that was pretextual, and that she was really fired in retaliation for requesting “time during working hours, two to three times per week, to attend therapy sessions,” according to the complaint.

For some people, working can help keep their mind off certain things that may otherwise cause stress, depression or anxiety. But when these problems reach a more clinical level, sometimes a more clinical approach to treating them is required. One Jennifer Manieri of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania says her former employer didn’t quite understand that in a lawsuit filed by her in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania earlier this month.

After being hired by AON as a consultant in 2015, she says she performed her job well, “receiving occasional praise and no significant dispute,” according to the complaint. Some seven months later she requested time off for therapy sessions two to three days a week, during work hours.

According to their website, AON is “a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions.” They are perhaps best-known as a former Manchester United sponsor.

In the complaint, Manieri says she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of 24, and that it was so bad that it impacted her ability to attend work on a full-time basis. It would seem that AON had no problems granting these accommodations at the time.

Four months later, in April, according to the complaint, she was placed on a “Performance Improvement Plan” by two of her supervisors due to alleged lack of attention to detail, poor organizational skills and an overall failure to take initiative. Manieri says these were all just potentially symptoms of ADHD, for which she was undergoing testing at the time.

Manieri says she raised this possibility with the two supervisors, but they dismissed her concerns in a “frustrated and condescending manner,” according to the complaint.

By September Manieri needed a full eight weeks leave for her depression and anxiety, which according to the complaint, she was granted. 

She was abruptly fired upon her return. AON claimed at the time it was for the same alleged performance issues related to her placement on the improvement plan.

Maniere is now suing AON, claiming she was actually fired for her “perceived and/or actual disabilities,” and in retaliation for requiring accommodation and leave for them. She sues on three counts, all discrimination and retaliation related, with Michael Murphy as her attorney. She demands no less than $150,000 in back wages and front pay, as well as liquidated damages.

Representatives from AON did not return a call requesting comment. Judge Mark A. Kearny is presiding.