Wheelchair-bound Rebecca Haynes-Bordas is suing Purdue for wrongful termination due to her disability. She had been working with the community around West Lafayette, Indiana at Purdue’s extension offices when she needed surgery for her abdominal region. The procedure resulted in her becoming completely paralyzed from the waist down. After that, she was approved by Purdue for leave for up to 2 years (May ’13 – May ’15), but she wasn’t actually able to receive this benefit because she was fired in May of 2014.
Haynes-Bordas did keep in contact with her employers throughout her recovery, and tried to make arrangements for how she would manage to return to work. She had asked for a modified bathroom to make it easier for her to maneuver with her wheelchair, and states she was told by the building manager that it would be an easy fix. She believes this request may have caused her termination. Haynes had been teaching low-income families in the area how best to handle their money, and had been on an award-winning team recognized for their effectiveness in helping develop community skills.
Purdue has not commented on this particular piece of litigation, however Hayne-Bordas stated that she had every intent to come back to work nearly a full year before her total disability leave time ran out. She said she told her boss that she would need about a month to return in May of 2014 when her boss told her that he needed a more concrete date due to her extended absence. Immediately after that conversation, she says she got a letter informing her of her termination. The official reasons were because she had no more paid or unpaid leave available. Her lawsuit filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is contesting that her disability leave lasted until the following year.
After 25 years of employment, Haynes-Bordas is certainly shocked and disillusioned with her employer. Character references from friends and colleagues state that she had earned a stellar reputation for her work, and shouldn’t have been treated this way due to a medical condition that was outside of her control.