A long-time employee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (FRBC) is suing because they terminated her employment seven months before she would have qualified for an early retirement with benefits and based their termination on discriminatory factors.
Janet Manno has worked for the FRBC since 1981, according to the complaint. She suffers from diabetes, neuropathy and lymphoma; her symptoms include “severe swelling, pain, numbness, and limited movement of her legs.”
Manno has taken intermittent Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for the past few years. When she asked to work from home at her discretion – a benefit she claims a coworker received – the request was denied. She was required, therefore, to take FMLA as well as unpaid time off from work.
Manno claims that from 2009 until 2011 she was allowed to take every Monday off with pay, but then FRBC “narrowed her accommodation” so that she was only allowed to take every other Monday off with pay. She claims she was forced to take the other Mondays off, unpaid, because of her disability.
Manno claims that her “inability to tend to disability and stay off her legs for 3 days straight exacerbated her symptoms.” In March 2016 she asked her supervisor if she could work from home so that she could keep her legs elevated; her request was denied. When she informed him she would have to take intermittent FMLA to tend to her disability he responded by asking whether Manno was threatening him and that she was putting him “on the spot.”
In late 2016, Manno claims she submitted a receipt to FRBC for medical equipment expecting reimbursement under a FRBC program. Manno claims a friend of hers actually bought the table and she planned to reimburse the friend when the FRBC paid her. FRBC noticed a discrepancy in the shipping date of the equipment, Manno claims she submitted a correct receipt from her friend, but was given a three day suspension.
About a year later Manno was terminated. She claims she ‘was seven months shy of her fifty-fifth birthday” at which point she would have qualified for early retirement with full benefits, including health benefits until she was sixty five. But her “termination resulted in a loss of further pension benefits and made her ineligible for continuing health benefits.”
Manno claims the “FRBC’s alleged reason for terminating [her], that she had committed reimbursement fraud, was a pretext for terminating her due to her age.” Moreover she claims that FRBC interfered with her ability to attain the benefits of the early retirement program, in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
Manno is represented by Cramer Law of Chicago who filed the case in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
Image Source: Bradhoc (Flickr)