WHEELING – A lawsuit against Growing Generations filed by a former employee who alleged she was discriminated against has been removed to federal court.

In its notice of removal, Growing Generations stated that the federal court was the original jurisdiction for the lawsuit, as the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

The company alleges that since the plaintiff seeks compensatory damages of her lost wages and punitive damages, the amount would exceed $75,000, making it a proper removal to federal court.

On June 1, 2015, Debra A. Laughlin was hired by Growing Generations as a case specialist in charge of managing surrogacy cases, according to a complaint filed in Ohio Circuit Court and later removed to federal court.

Laughlin claims until her employment was terminated on July 6, she provided management and coordination of intended parents, egg donors and surrogates.

On June 28, Laughlin experienced the symptoms of a stroke, including loss of speech and weakness in her arms and legs, which was later diagnosed by her doctor as a stroke, according to the suit.

Laughlin notified the defendant and its managers of her symptoms by phone on June 28, by text on June 29, in person on June 30 and again by e-mail and phone message on July 1.

On July 6, during a telephone conversation, the defendant terminated Laughlin’s employment, according to the suit.

Laughlin claims the defendant discriminated against her based on her disability, which violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

Despite her disability, Laughlin was a qualified person with a disability and was able to continue to perform the essential functions of her job with reasonable accommodation, according to the suit.

Laughlin is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Patrick S. Cassidy and Irvin N. Shapell of Cassidy, Cogan, Shapell & Voegelin.

Growing Generations is represented by Gerald E. Lofstead III and Mitchell J. Rhein of Spilman Thomas & Battle.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia case number: 5:16-cv-00192

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