Traffic manager claims she was terminated over sleep disorder issues

Michelle Keahey Apr. 17, 2012, 3:43am

NEW ORLEANS - A traffic manager with a sleep disorder that caused her to fall asleep unexpectedly has filed a discrimination lawsuit against her employer after she was terminated during approved medical leave.

Claiming discrimination and violations of Louisiana and federal law, Emily Yuja filed suit against Louisiana Media Company, Bebe Francis and Joe Cook on Feb. 14 in Orleans Parish District Court. The defendants removed the case to federal court in New Orleans on April 4.

Yuja was employed as a traffic manager from October 1978 to February 2011. She states that began to experience health problems in 2008 and was eventually diagnosed with sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.

According to the lawsuit, Yuja experienced times when she would fall asleep at work without her knowledge. Yuja's supervisors would awaken her through various methods like physically shaking her or banging on her wall.

In addition, her supervisors would take embarrassing pictures and would send them to the station's controller.

She states that she attempted to take time off of work during her treatment for sleep disorders and she was granted a two week leave.

During her leave she was called in for a meeting in which she was terminated for making "mistakes."

She was replaced by a younger employee.

The defendants are accused of violating the Family Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law.

The plaintiff is asking the court for an award of damages for emotional pain, embarrassment, humiliation, insecurity and anxiety, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, other non-pecuniary losses, back pay, benefits, front pay, attorney's fees and costs.

Yuja is represented by W. Christopher Beary and Angela L. Byrum of Orrill, Cordell & Beary in New Orleans.

Case No. 2:12-cv-00876

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