After prominent local attorneys announced their investigation of more than 300 Vanderbilt University Medical Center layoffs, one such terminated individual filed a federal lawsuit Thursday claiming the university had violated the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Angela Woodroof worked as a pharmacy technician at Vanderbilt since 2010, and the university had deemed her eligible for FMLA leave due to her chronic hypertension and diabetes.
She began utilizing the absences in January 2013 and was fired on July 2. The suit alleges Vanderbilt “retaliated against [Woodroof] for requesting, applying for and using FMLA-protected leave.”
Her supervisor told her she was being terminated because of a negative performance evaluation, which Woodroof and her counsel allege is a false reason.
The suit claims Woodroof had never been counseled or reprimanded for her work, but following her use of leave, her supervisors issued a negative job evaluation and told her for the first time she was difficult to work with.
Woodroof claims she utilized an FMLA absence on July 1 due to her health conditions and was terminated the next day, without ever having met with her supervisors regarding the negative evaluation.
The suit comes on the heels of an announcement that former U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin and Nashville attorney George Barrett are investigating the mass terminations that occurred earlier this month.
The attorneys said they had reason to believe Vanderbilt was not being fully transparent about the layoffs, and they would be investigating the criteria used to select employees for termination, including race, age and use of FMLA.
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 is a federal law that entitles eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons.
More than 300 employees were terminated from Vanderbilt University Medical Center earlier this month and up to 1,000 are expected.