A Lincoln woman who worked as a paralegal in the Lancaster County Attorney's Office for 16 years has accused her former employer of forcing her to retire early in a lawsuit filed Friday.
In the case filed in U.S. District Court, Nancy Weber said County Attorney Joe Kelly gave her the choice of retiring or having her employment terminated after she asked for additional time off under the Family Medical Leave Act in April 2016.
It followed a string of approvals for time off for other medical issues involving her and her husband.
Weber's attorney, Melanie Whittamore-Mantzios, alleged that forcing her to retire or be terminated for exercising her rights under the act was unlawful retaliation and she is entitled to damages and back pay.
In an email Monday, Kelly said he didn't have any comment on the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Weber had worked in the office since August 1999. In 2013, she began working full-time as a "single case owner," a position expected to perform both the work of a paralegal and legal secretary.
Whittamore-Mantzios said in 2014 Weber asked for time off to care for her husband after he had a heart attack and underwent triple bypass surgery. She said Weber initially was told she would need to use all of her remaining vacation time since she didn't have any more paid family sick leave.
But she eventually was approved for intermittent family medical leave to take care of her husband for two or three hours a day for a four-week period.
Whittamore-Mantzios said Weber began working part-time but had difficulty keeping up with her full-time work load and asked for additional help, but was denied.
In April 2015, she said Weber was suspended a day without pay for failing to take timely action on her files.
Four months later, Weber got pneumonia and couldn't work for a week. When she returned to work part-time, she was expected to complete her full caseload.
In April 2016, Weber told the office manager she would need to take about a month of leave for a surgery on her foot the next month.
Two days before the scheduled surgery, Whittamore-Mantzios said, Kelly called Weber "and told her that he had decided he would terminate her employment or alternatively she could take retirement."
She said Weber was forced to retire in 2016. She had planned to retire at the age of 62 in 2019.
According to the lawsuit, Kelly had provided her notice of a proposed disciplinary action related to four specific instances where Weber had failed to enter notes or do other follow-up work as cause for dismissal.
But Whittamore-Mantzios alleged it really was done in retaliation for Weber exercising her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act.
She is asking for back pay and for actual monetary losses from the loss of health insurance benefits, retirement and social security income.