Ex-worker sues Sophocleus, office Former secretary's use of medical leave is at issue

July 28, 1996|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

A former secretary in the state's attorney's office has sued its administrative officer, Theodore J. Sophocleus, and the county for employment discrimination, claiming that she was fired last year for taking medical leave when she had a bout of depression.

Linda T. Joyce, who worked as a secretary in the state's attorney's office from November 1984 until May, is seeking $1 million in damages from Sophocleus and $600,000 from the county and state's attorney's office.

She is suing for unlawful termination under the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The suit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Joyce alleges that she left work on Feb. 27, 1995, for a doctor's appointment and was hospitalized that day for depression. Her husband, James Joyce, called the state's attorney's office that day to advise them of his wife's illness.

Joyce was in North Arundel Hospital for a week. When she was released, March 6, 1995, she applied for a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which was granted.

But she received a letter on May 16, 1995, from Sophocleus, the administrative officer to State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, informing her that she would be fired May 19, the suit said.

According to the suit, Sophocleus, a former county executive candidate, wrote that she was being fired because she did not directly call in on Feb. 27 to tell officials in the state's attorney's office that she would not be returning. In addition, she was told that during the first week of her medical leave of absence, she failed to communicate with the state's attorney's office.

Joyce filed an employment discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in October. A notice right to sue was issued in May by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Attempts to reach Sophocleus and a state's attorney's office spokeswoman were unsuccessful.

Pub Date: 7/28/96

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