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Home / News / Health / Former foundation worker ties firing to COVID medical leave

Former foundation worker ties firing to COVID medical leave

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A former executive assistant for the Diane & Guilford Glazer Foundation is suing her ex-employer, alleging she was wrongfully fired in 2021 for taking medical leave to deal with depression associated with a month-long bout with the coronavirus.

Veronica Mendez’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit also names Guilford Glazer Properties Inc. as a defendant. The suit states that both the foundation and the company, each based in Beverly Hills, employed her “directly and indirectly.”

The suit also alleges disability, race, and religious discrimination — Mendez is a Latina of the Mormon faith — as well as failure to accommodate and engage in the interactive process. Mendez seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

A Diane & Guilford Glazer Foundation representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Tuesday.

The foundation focuses on the “prosperity and safety of Israel and the vitality and enrichment of Jewish communities in Israel, Los Angeles, and throughout the world,” the group’s website states. The foundation is also engaged in funding medical research and advancements in Israel and the United States as well as humanitarian relief efforts globally, according to the website.

Mendez was hired to work at the defendants’ predecessor company in April 2019 as an executive assistant, handling various administrative roles and duties, the suit states.

“The names on plaintiff Mendez’s paychecks from defendants varied not on the basis of the work done for each defendant, but by fictional dictates that defendants undertook, including in December of 2020 when defendants advised plaintiff Mendez in writing that certain changes in record keeping would change who her new employer was going forward starting in early 2021,” the suit states.

Starting in May 2021, Mendez acquired clinical depression and anxiety associated with a 34-day bout with the coronavirus, which she acquired in December 2020, the suit states. Her resulting emotional condition temporarily prevented the plaintiff from working and required she take medical time off, then later a brief disability leave, the suit states.

Mendez initially tried to continue working, but in July 2021 her doctor placed her on medical leave for severe depression and anxiety and the physician later issued several leave extensions, with the final one scheduled to expire last Nov. 29, the suit states.

However, on Oct. 15, just two days after the last medical leave extension notice, her employers notified her by email that she was being fired, the suit states.

“Unfortunately, given the pattern of the notes from your doctor, the indefinite nature of your leave and due to our ongoing and growing business needs, the foundation is unable to continue to hold open your position with the Foundation under a further leave of absence,” states the foundation’s email to Mendez, a copy of which is attached to the suit.

The email also states that the foundation had given Mendez an additional three weeks of leave beyond its family leave and temporary disability leave policies.

Mendez has suffered financial losses and emotional distress since losing her job, according to the suit, which further states that while she was off on medical leave, her former employers advertised in August 2021 for someone to fill her position.

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