Carpal Tunnel-Sufferer Sues Lincoln University for Discriminating Against Her Disability

A Lincoln University admin has sued the school for discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.

In a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, she says that as a carpal tunnel-sufferer, she is disabled, and that the school discriminated against her on that basis.

Tracy Beird started working for Lincoln University, a historically black school that receives public finding, in its Office of Institutional Research and Planning in October 2001 After starting as a secretary, she was quickly promoted to data coordinator.  The only other person in that office was its director, although there was a slot for a program analyst which was only filled for a few months in 2015.  According to the complaint, Beird filled both her coordinator job, as well as the analyst one while it was vacant.

In October 2015 Beird requested and was approved for intermittent medical leave to care for her daughter, who suffers from a mental health disability.  A month later she applied for continuous FMLA leave for her own medical disability — carpal tunnel syndrome.  In 2016 she once more applied for intermittent FMLA leave for another daughter, as well as her ailing husband.  While on leave, she offered to work from home, as she had done previously.

When she returned from leave in March 2016, she informed her supervisor what days she would be out or leaving early for FMLA reasons for the next few weeks, according to the complaint.

Later that day she was informed that her position would no longer be needed and she would be terminated April 1, 2016.  When another position, for which she had filled in in the past, opened up, she applied for it.  She never heard back, the complaint states.  

“[Beird] was entitled to take up to an aggregate of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave for her children’s, husband’s and her own serious health conditions without repercussions pursuant to the FMLA” the complaint states. It continues, “Lincoln interfered with [her] FMLA rights and retaliated against her by illegally terminating her and refusing to rehire her because she asserted her rights under the FMLA or requested FMLA leave for her children, husband, and herself.”

Central to Beird’s suit is that carpal tunnel syndrome renders her disabled, and therefore Lincoln fired her and refused to rehire her due to that disability.

Beird seeks compensatory damages, back pay, reinstatement or front pay, declaratory relief that Lincoln engaged in discriminatory conduct.  The suit was filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Scott M. Pollins.

Representatives from Lincoln’s communications and public relations department did not return an message requesting comment.

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