NLH worker sues over termination

GLOVERSVILLE – A former employee of Nathan Littauer Hospital has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York against the hospital and several executives and supervisors, claiming she was fired from her job after she went on medical leave to undergo surgery her physicians recommended.

According to the court documents filed Feb. 28, former employee Rebecca Bogusz filed a lawsuit against the hospital and NLH?Vice President for Primary/Specialty Care Service Patrice McMahon, Primary/Specialty Care Network Manager Donita Crankshaw, Primary/Specialty Care Center Site Manager Paula Hohensheldt and Vice President of Human Resources Lana Wydra.

The lawsuit claims the hospital violated the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

Bogusz is seeking “compensatory and liquidated damages, counsel fees, equitable relief including front pay and all other appropriate relief,” according to court papers.

The lawsuit says Bogusz was employed by the hospital from Nov. 6, 2006, through Nov. 17, 2011.

On Sept. 26, 2011, the court documents said, Bogusz’s physicians determined that she needed gastric bypass surgery to treat her obesity, arthritis, and other medical conditions, including a degenerative joint disorder.

Because this type of procedure requires the patient to lose 10 percent of her body weight in advance, she was not eligible for the surgery until Oct. 28, 2011, which is when she informed her immediate supervisor, Crankshaw, that her surgery was scheduled for Nov. 21, 2011, according to the lawsuit.

The hospital denied her request for leave, stating it was not possible due to “staffing shortages,” according to the lawsuit.

The hospital also said Bogusz’s surgery was elective and that she should reschedule the surgery without guaranteeing she would be approved the time off if it were rescheduled, the lawsuit said. Crankshaw notified the defendant that if she took unapproved time from work, she would be terminated.

The lawsuit said Bogusz was unable to reschedule the surgery because her insurance would no longer cover it after Dec. 31, 2011.

On Nov. 18, 2011, she was fired from the hospital, allegedly for insubordination and job abandonment, the lawsuit says.

Shortly after the hospital fired her, Bogusz claims, the Human Resources Department told her that her request for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act was approved. The hospital failed to rescind her termination, however, and it challenged her efforts to get unemployment compensation, according to the lawsuit.

As a result of the hospital’s violations, Bogusz claims, she is entitled to reinstatement, payment, employment benefits and other compensation as well as interest, damages and attorney’s fees, the lawsuit says.

Cheryl McGrattan, vice president of communications and community relations for the hospital, said Littauer officials have no comment on the lawsuit.

Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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