Employee with Overactive Bladder Sues State Farm for Discrimination, Retaliation

A Georgia woman who was employed by State Farm Automobile Insurance Co. for 20 years is suing the insurer alleging she was discriminated and retaliated against because of her bladder disability.

The employee, Elisa Brown, was diagnosed with overactive bladder syndrome in late February 2020. She suffered from urinary incontinence and needed frequent restroom breaks.

According to the complaint filed in U.S. district court for northern Georgia, the company accommodated Brown’s’ need at first but within months her immediate supervisor told her that she was no longer allowed to take unscheduled restroom breaks. The suit alleges her supervisor began harassing her about her medical condition and monitoring her bathroom breaks. The supervisor also allegedly set new job expectations for Brown.

Prior to her diagnosis, Brown says she consistently received good performance reviews and was awarded several company achievement awards. After her diagnosis, her supervisor issued her first-ever negative performance review. Brown further claims that she tried to apply for a lateral position but her supervisor refused to give her a recommendation.

Brown claims that she was treated differently than other employees in terms of break monitoring, job expectations and supervisor recommendations.

Having twice complained to the company’s human resources department with no results, Brown contacted the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). HR learned that she had reached out to the EEOC and terminated her employment the same day she filed a charge of race and disability discrimination and retaliation with the EEOC, the complaint says.

Brown alleges State Farm “willfully and wantonly” disregarded her rights in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Right Act. She is seeking lost wages and benefits, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and costs, prejudgment interest, and any other available relief.

State Farm did not respond to a request for comment on the suit by press time.