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Former Hopkins med school employee files $350K discrimination suit

A former Johns Hopkins School of Medicine employee who suffers from Crohn’s disease has filed a $350,000 lawsuit against the school, alleging she was forced to resign following months of harassment by her supervisor over her medical condition.

Brandy Ouimette, who worked at the school for 12 years, said her boss, Carlita Kearney, “arbitrarily and capriciously” denied her medical leave for a doctor’s appointment and accused her of forging her physician’s signature, according to her complaint, which was filed originally in Baltimore County Circuit Court but transferred Friday to U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

“It’s a very cut-and-dry violation” of the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Donna M.B. King, a Towson solo practitioner representing Ouimette. “I think most employers would know you have to provide some accommodation.”

Alexander Berg, an attorney for the medical school, did not immediately return a request for comment on the lawsuit Tuesday. Berg is with Kollman & Saucier P.A. in Timonium.

Ouimette had scheduled a doctor’s appointment for April 15, 2014, the lawsuit states, but was denied the chance to use leave she’d earned to take off work. As a result, she resigned on April 14, 2014.

“[Ouimette] requested from Kearney an accommodation in the form of earned sick or vacation time for medical testing,” the lawsuit states. “There was no legitimate reason to deny this request.”

Kearney had previously denied Ouimette time off for a necessary medical procedure, forcing her to seek care after work hours at an urgent care facility, according to the complaint.

Kearney also told other employees about Ouimette’s medical condition, the suit states. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever.

Ouimette had requested to use her earned sick or vacation leave for the April 15 appointment but the lawsuit alleges she should also have been permitted to take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The lawsuit claims the medical school violated the ADA and seeks $150,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages.

The case is Brandy Ouimette v. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 1:15-cv-02421-WMN.

About Lauren Kirkwood

Lauren Kirkwood covers the business of law beat at The Daily Record.