Woman diagnosed with Parkinson's sues employer over termination and disclosure

Andrea Dearden Nov. 22, 2010, 6:56am

A Madison County woman claims her former employer fired her and then told her colleagues it was because of a medical condition.

Shirley Howard filed a discrimination claim against Broomfield Whitesides Inc. Nov. 12 in Madison County Circuit Court. The woman contends the company terminated her employment and then told her colleagues she was being replaced because she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Howard says she began working for Broomfield Whitesides in November 2007 and became area manager by May 2008. During the following year, Howard says she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Howard says she continued to work for the defendant until June 2009 when she asked for a leave of absence in order to adjust to medications. It was then that the owner of the company, Jim Whitesides, allegedly sent an email to employees saying he was replacing Howard as general manager due to her "diagnosis with Parkinson's disease."

Howard is suing for wrongful termination and for handicap discrimination, a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act. She is seeking $50,000 in damages for lost wages and court costs.

Attorney Lee W. Barron of Alton is representing Howard. They ask for a jury trial.

Madison County Circuit Court case no. 10-L-1153.

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