Recently fired former VUMC employee files FMLA suit

Friday, July 19, 2013 at 1:03pm

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.

17 Comments on this post:

By: supermom on 7/19/13 at 10:40

Instead of wasting valuable resources of the federal government and prominent medical center, why don't you just go out and get another job. FMLA rights are NOT violated when other policies are not followed or when you call in and try to use a sick day and credit it to FMLA when you really just did not want to work that day - as I have been told is the case. Your husband was off and your step daughter was there and you wanted to spend the day with them. Take responsibility for yourself and get another job and move on with your life. Take this as a life lesson to do your job better and get along with people better. With first hand knowledge of your situation I am contemplating contacting the Vanderbilt legal team with information about your violation of other policies that are not protected by FMLA. The news story also has inaccuracies in it - like not having a chance to discuss the negative evaluation with your supervisor - evals were done in April and you had to electronically sign off on it - if you did nothing in 2 months since it was completed that is only your problem and you need to realize that you are the only one to blame for losing your job. Go get another job and learn from your mistakes.

By: Badbob on 7/21/13 at 4:48

When it comes time for large organizations to lay people off, the employees with medical problems are always the first to loose their jobs.

By: supermom on 7/21/13 at 11:24

This was not a layoff - she was fired for poor performance. She was not on FMLA approved leave the day she was fired - approved for intermittent leave so the days don't count against you per policy for those who abuse the system. When using FMLA like this policy still has to be followed as to how to call out and you actually have to be sick with whatever is approved under the FMLA for you - which is not the case for her. She states FMLA for hypertension and diabetes. Had she been fired for too many absences she may be able to claim this and have a winning case however, that is not the case. I do not want someone with a negative evaluation and being coached to do a better job working in a key patient care area like the pharmacy taking care of me - and neither does Vanderbilt.

By: nikkinicole642 on 7/22/13 at 7:30

Supermom " When using FMLA like this policy still has to be followed as to how to call out and you actually have to be sick with whatever is approved under the FMLA for you - which is not the case for her."

"I am contemplating contacting the Vanderbilt legal team with information"

How the heck can you say what she was feeling the day she took off? Where you inside her body monitoring how she felt? Where you in her mind? Maybe you should devote more of your time into being a "supermom".

Clearly this is personal for you. Sorry, but your speculation and opinion is not likely to affect this case. You really need to get a life.

Oh yeah...I am an individual who has been on FMLA for the past 2 years. I am also a weekly visitor to VMC Cancer Clinic. I was surprised to hear of the layoffs considering that many areas of the hospital are clearly understaffed.

By: supermom on 7/22/13 at 7:53

Nikkinicole642 - it is not speculation or my opinion at all - I know someone who was there the day she called out sick and am very familiar with her. It was the day after her birthday and she wanted to spend time with her husband and stepdaughter. Her story clearly has holes in it - Vanderbilt did not target her for FMLA reasons at all. I can not speak for every employee recently affected but she was in the wrong. Her performance evaluation - that was signed off electronically by her for over 2 months - did not seem to bother her until she was fired. Would you want someone in the pharmacy at Vanderbilt mixing your treatment drugs, who has a history of poor performance and has not responded to coaching? That would be very personal to you, now. You expect Vanderbilt to have the best people possible working with when you are at the Cancer Center. Thank you, but I do have a life. With the government on furloughs and healthcare buckling down to deal with lower reimbursements and other issues, I hate to see someone like her abuse the system on both ends and utilize valuable time and funds for a case built on lies where the funds could go towards a cancer patient's treatment or another employee or two in a key area. After all - isn't that part of the equation why Vanderbilt is thinning out personnel to begin with?

By: FaceBook:Emmett... on 7/22/13 at 9:48

These terminations at VUMC were a necessary response to the coming ObaMaoCare debacle.

By: pswindle on 7/22/13 at 10:54

supermom, you know someone that works there--come on, this is not first hand info. Obamacare may be just what the doctor ordered. There is so much good in the bill that it as already helped millions of people and all of it has not kicked in yet. FaceBook, you sound like Diane Black. She says over and over again that it is too flawed to work. She doesn't even understand the bill. She just keeps repeating the GOP talking points. You sound like the GOP after SS and Medicare. How many in your family enjoys the financial support of these programs? How many could not survive without them?

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 7/22/13 at 11:15

I have both those chronic conditions plus a few others, but I go to work every day and on time. Some days I may not be feeling top notch, but I GO TO WORK. I have a lot of sick time I could take, but I do not take it unless I have some serious or contagious illness.

Maybe this lady was really unable to be at work, but was she really able to perfom her job if she wasn't there? I do not know her, but I have seen other people who were "difficult to work with" and impaired the whole workplace.

By: supermom on 7/22/13 at 11:45

pswindle - I work full time, pay my own medical - and am on NO government subsidies - never have. My mother is in her 70's and has medicare SECONDARY to a commercial insurance she got in her retirement. My parents worked their entire lives. Everyone in my immediate family works full time and has commercial medical insurance through their jobs. I am simply stating what is stated about this one employee above is inacurate. I never implied or stated anything else. She is twisting her story to look like a federal lawsuit instead of looking for another job. What she is claiming is easily disproved. She is wasting valuable resources that in this day and age should be allocated elsewhere. I never said anything good, bad or indifferent about Obamacare or applied it to the lies of this story. The money she is wasting could be putting food on the table for children or giving medicine to sick people in need. As for the person in this article, June 30th was her birthday and she wanted to spend July 1st with her husband who was off that day, and her step daughter - who coincidentally shares a birthday with her - who was over there that day. She spent a regular day running around with them. She was not sick with what she has approved FMLA leave for. This story is not even disputing that day. Change is inevitable and we are the only ones accountable for our actions and her actions are costing a lot of money for both the federal government and medical industry. She just needs to realize she needs to find another job and move on. All employers are wanting the best people possible in their positions because we will all have to work harder for nothing more. If she decided not to act on her negative evaluation for over 2 months and continued to have sketchy work, then she does not need to be working in the pharmacy of a hospital where a mistake could cost a life.

By: supermom on 7/22/13 at 11:48

pswindle - You are correct, I do know someone who works there and also know the person in this article.

By: pswindle on 7/22/13 at 1:24

Please Supermom, second hand info. A Judge would not even let what you said in court. Why do you not like this person? So much damage has been done with second hand info, and later was proven not to be true. I was answering FaceBook on ObamaCare. This Presdient has been demoralized since he took office. At least, he is not trying to destroy the world as Bush/Cheney tried to do. You know, ObamaCare might just work as SS and Medicare has worked for millions. The system before ObamaCare was not working, so give something new a chance. The GOP has tried from the beginning to stop SS and Medicare. ObamaCare may not work, but we have to do something to help millions get health insurance. The ER can not be sustained for the uninsured. Who do you think pays for the uninsured? We that have insurance.

By: supermom on 7/22/13 at 2:44

It has nothing to do with like or dislike - it has to do with not liking to see people wasting valuable resources that should be used elsewhere or cheating the system and blaming others for your own downfall and not taking responsibility for your own actions. We are in for a lot of change - my initial intention was only to state in the changes we are facing this lawsuit is a waste of too many resources that could be used elsewhere. Obamacare might be the answer, might not - time will tell. One thing is clear - change is needed.

By: amyinsparta on 7/22/13 at 3:41

Well, then, Supermom, you should contact her attorneys and tell them she is taking them for a ride. Since you know so much about her, you can be sure you will be called as a witness to her laziness. However, it might be better to just stay out of the situation, lest you be besmirched by your association with her. You obviously have some association with her or you would not know so much about her, right?

Stay out of other people's business and let the law run it's course with this lady.

By: nikkinicole642 on 7/23/13 at 7:31

Supermom... You sound like the majority of society...'brainwashed sheeple'.

"It has nothing to do with like or dislike - it has to do with not liking to see people wasting valuable resources"

This is clearly personal for you. You are the only person on here discussing this woman's personal business as if you were there on her birthday and the day after to see what she was doing. Your comments are pure speculation.

And this crap about valuable resources. Guess what honey...you ARE the valuable resource for your government AKA slave. Your employer is making moves just to continue making MORE money in our FOR PROFIT medical industry.

I have seen it with my own eyes...100's of people in 1 day being ushered through line to receive their elixir of chemo poison. My insurance is billed $14K each time.
Oh and they LOVE repeat customers!

It is hilarious to see how much you adore your beloved employer. You must truly believe they care about you. You are just another number like your fellow employee for which you hold so much disdain.

By: supermom on 7/23/13 at 7:46

I love how people are putting words into my mouth . . . here is the sum of why I commented - I do not like to see people wasting valuable resources that could be used elsewhere - getting foodstamps when they don't qualify, getting disability when they don't qualify, filing frivilous lawsuits - there are too many people out there that do qualify who can not get the services they need because of those who cheat the system. However - if you would rather people be handed things for free that they do not deserve or qualify for and bump others that really do qualify from gaining their needed assistance/medical/etc. - fine, that is your opinion. Forget the details I put out there. Forget that I know about her. Now - if people will quit putting words into my mouth and elaborating on assumptions they have made from my comments.

By: pswindle on 7/23/13 at 10:35

Do you ever waste valuable resources? I bet this person would have some choice words about you. Your venom is showing. You may not know all of the details.

By: supermom on 7/24/13 at 7:59

I have never gotten anything for free- any resources I may have wasted were of my own creation and not that of the federal government or any government and were paid for only by me. You seemed to have strong opinions about the teacher's minimun pay and the schools being dirty - let's just sit back and see how this plays out and maybe people will quit putting words into my mouth and realize how shameful of a lawsuit this is that was filed. How this could have been more government funding for the schools so teachers could get better pay, etc. I am not speaking of every FMLA lawsuit or any other Vanderbilt employees affected - this one only and this person only. So, if it is venom showing so be it - I am passionate about people cheating the system that my tax dollars are paying for, because I have worked my entire life, carried my own health insurance my entire life and feel the system is broken to catch some of the people who are obviously cheating the system.