Wendy’s Worker Claims She Was Fired Over Ovarian Cyst

A woman in Alabama has sued the owner of the Wendy’s franchise she worked at for six years before being fired for “job abandonment” earlier this year. She says she didn’t abandon her job, but that she was having an ovarian cyst treated.

HuffPo reports on a lawsuit [PDF] filed late last week in federal court, in which the woman says she began experiencing “severe abdominal pains and debilitating cramps” while working at the eatery on May 15.

That same day, she visited a doctor, who determined that she had an ovarian cyst that required surgery.

When she was unable to make it to work later that week, she says her boyfriend provided doctor’s notes explaining her absence to the Wendy’s manager.

Meanwhile, she alleges that the manager began telling other employees that the ill worker had abandoned her job, and did not put the employee on the schedule for any upcoming days.

A review of the worker’s file showed that the manager never recorded any of the doctor’s notes that the employee had provided. The franchisee has a policy that “An employee will be assumed to have resigned should he/she fail to personally notify management of an absence for three consecutive scheduled work days or walk off the job without authorization.”

In the lawsuit, the worker says she asked her manager on May 19 why she had been removed from the schedule, but claims the manager would not offer an explanation. She then met with the manager and a district manager on May 22 to discuss the situation. At this meeting, the district manager allegedly told the employee to not file her Family Medical Leave Act paperwork.

The FMLA guarantees workers can take unpaid leave in certain situations, including “a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job.”

On May 26, she says she was told to not return to work.

She contends that she didn’t abandon her job as alleged, and that Wendy’s failed to honor its own dismissal policy of issuing two written warnings before a dismissal. The employee maintains that she was never criticized or disciplined before being fired.

When contacted by HuffPo, the owner of the franchise claimed to be unaware of the allegations made by the former employee.

“We will do the right thing,” said the franchisee. “If errors have been made in this particular restaurant — errors in judgment or otherwise — we will do the right thing and this employee will be brought back with backpay. I have no interest in having anything but a great place for all of my employees to work at, and that includes this young lady.”

Interestingly, the former Wendy’s worker did not name Wendy’s corporate office as a co-defendant in the case, in spite of a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board General Counsel that another huge franchised fast food operation, McDonald’s, can be considered a “joint employer” alongside its franchisees.