TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A former custodian for Whitehouse ISD (WISD) is suing the district for discrimination after she was terminated, citing her disability.
Alice Singletary, was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2020, and according to a lawsuit filed on June 23, she was terminated after being denied unpaid leave to have her second and final breast reconstruction surgery.
“Prior to her termination, Singletary had done nothing to merit termination and she refused to resign,” the lawsuit said.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Singletary had a mastectomy in April 2020, and a re-excision surgery the next week to remove more cancerous cells that were found, documents state.
She was given an eight-week recovery time after her surgeries, and according to the lawsuit “Singletary chose to have reconstruction surgery to help her mentally with the drastic change to her body.”
The reconstruction surgery takes place in two parts, and the first reconstructive surgery took place on November 13, 2020, and her second surgery was scheduled for March 12, 2021, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that Singletary notified her personnel manager of the second reconstruction within a three-week period before her surgery, and the manager met with Singletary a week before the surgery and asked her to postpone.
“Plaintiff informed the personnel manager that she could not postpone the surgery because the surgeon only allows for two patients a month that have Plaintiff’s particular insurance,” the lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, the manager told Singletary that she had used the last of her sick and state days on with the first reconstructive surgery, and the nature of the surgery did not qualify her for medical leave.
To earn more paid time off, Singletary was told that she needed to work 63 more hours, or she would be facing termination.
“A coworker of Singletary had donated sick days to her, but she was not allowed to have them because the breast reconstruction procedure was not considered catastrophic in the WISD guidelines for the sick day pool,” the lawsuit said. “The expanders in Singletary’s chest had been very painful and uncomfortable and she needed to have the second reconstruction surgery as soon as possible.”
Singletary was also denied any unpaid leave by WISD for the second reconstruction surgery, and on March 16, 2021 was sent a letter and voicemail from human resources informing Singletary of her termination, according to the lawsuit. She had been employed by the district since 2018.
The lawsuit alleges that WISD violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Texas Commission on Human Rights by terminating Singletary “by regarding her as being disabled when it made the decision to terminate Plaintiff.”
Singletary is seeking economic, compensatory, punitive and liquidated damages related to lost wages and compensation that resulted from her termination.
The lawsuit also alleges gender discrimination, and that Singletary was “not afforded the same consideration” to her male employees when WISD made the decision to terminate her.
“Plaintiff was terminated as a direct result of her disability related to her cancer and subsequent reconstructive surgery,” the lawsuit said.
Whitehouse ISD has declined to comment at this time.