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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

Employee with Disability Uses FMLA Leave then Allegedly Accused of Drug Abuse and Fired Without Drug


Employee Files Lawsuit against UPMC McKeesport for Disability Discrimination

In October 2012, Kari accepted a position with UPMC McKeesport as a registered nurse in the emergency department. Four years later, she left on approved FMLA leave to give birth. After the birth, Kari used 6 weeks of short term disability (STD) leave and then 6 weeks of her personal time off. During this time, her counselor suggested that Kari was experiencing the postpartum symptoms of acute depression as well as anxiety.

Kari returned to work. She shared that she dealt with bullying treatment from a coworker. This treatment made her depression and anxiety flare up so she applied for FMLA leave in October 2016. Her application was denied by UPMC McKeesport, but Kari did receive 6 weeks of STD leave.

sad female nurse

As the time for her return to work approached, Kari worried that the bullying treatment of her coworkers would undo the recovery she had experienced in the last few weeks. Kari approached her unit manager, the HR department, and her previous unit manager to request that she be demoted to staff nurse so she would be removed from interaction with the coworkers who were bullying her. She was told to bring it up when she returned and that she may have to re-apply as a new employee to receive the staff nurse position.

When Kari returned to work, she was placed into her same position with the same bullying coworkers. No one mentioned her request of demotion to staff nurse. In fact, during that first shift back, Kari was accused of drug abuse. Kari was fired without a drug test.

Kari suspects that she was fired due to her disability because UPMC McKeesport failed to administer a drug test and took no active steps to accommodate her request for a different position. As a client of KM&A, Kari is seeking her rights under the law. KM&A fights on the behalf of employees like Kari who have suffered discrimination, retaliation, and termination due to a disability.

Full text of this complaint, as filed with the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, is available at docket no: 2:18-cv-00209-NBF

Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC is an employment law firm with principal offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, serving all counties in Pennsylvania, focusing on employment law, business law, litigation, and civil issues. KM&A clients include employees, small businesses, parties in litigation, and people with a variety of legal issues.

For more information about this case, contact Attorney Sean Ruppert at (412) 626-5550  or at

NOTICE: All information contained in this statement comes from the Complaint which has been filed as a public record with the court. As dedicated civil rights attorneys, we strongly believe in the public value of telling our clients’ stories: violators can be held accountable, and other silent victims can feel empowered to stand up for their legal rights. Although we make every attempt to verify our clients’ claims, note that the defendant is expected to oppose our client’s position, and the court has not ruled one way or the other as of the date of this statement.

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