Worker files discrimination lawsuit after commuting stress not accommodated

Woman claimed stress of daily commute made her anxiety and depression worse but she was fired when she demanded flexible hours

A New Jersey woman is claiming stress she suffered in her commute to work constituted a disability and her former employer fired her when she demanded accommodation.

Andrea DeGerolamo joined Lancaster, Penn.-based Fulton Financial Corp. in 2007 as a marketing consultant. She claimed in her lawsuit that in 2012, she “began to feel great anxiety and depression, which was especially aggravated by crowded roadways experienced during the heavy traffic of rush hour.” Her condition worsened to the point where she had to take medical leave in August 2012.

When DeGerolamo returned to work in November 2012, she made a request — with her doctor’s consent — to have a shift in which she could come to work after the morning rush hour and leave before the evening rush hour began. Fulton Financial apparently change DeGerolamo’s schedule for a little while, but her job duties were downgraded to what she defined as “clerical-type work.” Before long, she was back to regular hours.

In May 2013, DeGerolamo went to Fulton Financial’s ethics review board to complain that her disability wasn’t being accommodated, but didn’t hear from the board. On May 17, the company terminated her employment.

DeGerolamo filed her lawsuit, claiming Fulton Financial violated New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law and her anxiety depression constituted a medical condition that made her disabled.

A U.S. federal court in Camden County, N.J., will hear the case.

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