Catholic Foster Care Agency Sued by Asthma-Sufferer for Disability Discrimination

Catholic Guardian Services (CGS), a not-for-profit that provides foster care services, is being sued by an ex-employee who claims that she was discriminated against because of her respiratory disability.

Elsa Thompson worked as a group conference facilitator for CGS since 2007, according to the complaint. She claims she suffers from chronic asthmatic bronchitis and informed CGS of her condition in 2012 or 2013. Symptoms include “wheezing, coughing, chest congestion, out of breath, have to avoid talking as it exacerbates coughing.” Thompson claims that she also had trouble lifting and carrying objects and that the symptoms were made worse by extreme temperatures.

Thompson claims she sometimes had to miss work because the “asthma became too much to bear.” She also claims that her supervisors made her feel uncomfortable for doing so.

After a trip to Jamaica for her father’s funeral service, Thompson’s symptoms intensified and she sought medical assistance from a physician. On or around May 21, 2015 she was placed on medical leave by her doctor. She presented a note to CGS from the doctor stating she could return to work on June 1, 2015.

On May 29, 2015, Thompson’s physician extended her leave to June 11 and on June 10 it was extended again to June 22. Thompson claims that, on June 30, she tried to sign in to her employee email account but could not; she noticed that CGS had locked her out of the portal.

Thompson claims that “[o]n or around June 30, 2015, [CGS] wrongfully terminated [her] because of her disability and in retaliation for her continued complaints and requests for leave.” She also claims that CGS wrongfully withheld an outstanding salary amount.

Thompson claims CGS’s actions have “caused her to sustain serious and permanent personal injures, including psychological injuries,” “regular panic attacks and nightmares,” and that she “continues to suffer sever emotional distress.”

Thompson is represented by Caroline Miller who brought the action in the Southern District Court of New York.