Holiday Inn Franchisee Allegedly Fired Worker Over Panic Attack

From labor disputes cases to labor and employment publications, for your research, you’ll find solutions on Bloomberg Law®. Protect your clients by developing strategies based on Litigation...

By Patrick Dorrian

An employee at a Holiday Inn in Indiana sued the hotel’s owner, alleging she was illegally fired because she had a panic attack at work.

Taupoisalani Skinner-Jones says she was rushed from the hotel to the hospital via ambulance following the Aug. 8, 2016, incident, during which she also exhibited slurred speech ( Skinner-Jones v. Merrillville Lodging, Inc. , N.D. Ind., No. 2:17-cv-00340, complaint filed 8/21/17 ).

Merrillville Lodging Inc. fired her two days later without first making any effort to determine if it could provide an accommodation that would keep her working, Skinner-Jones alleges in a lawsuit filed Aug. 21 with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. Before she was fired, Skinner-Jones was told she “should step down” and “take care of her health,” she asserts. She also was told she needed to quit because “having a panic attack in front of guests was not tolerated,” according to her complaint.

ADA Violation?

Skinner-Jones says her disability is anxiety with associated panic attacks, which she had experienced before, her attorney, Heather R. Falks, told Bloomberg BNA in an Aug. 22 email. Falks is with Stewart & Stewart in Carmel, Ind.

By firing Skinner-Jones because she is disabled, because it perceived her to be disabled, or because she has a record of disability, the hotel violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the complaint asserts.

“This lawsuit involves an independently owned and operated franchise,” an InterContinental Hotels Group spokesperson told Bloomberg BNA in an Aug. 22 email. “IHG has not received a copy of the lawsuit and does not have any information regarding her case.” IHG is the parent company of Holiday Inn.

Bloomberg BNA’s attempts to contact Merrillville Lodging Inc. for comment Aug. 22 were unsuccessful.

David W. Stewart of Stewart & Stewart also represents Skinner-Jones. No attorney had filed an appearance yet for the hotel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bna.com

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Request Labor & Employment on Bloomberg Law