Ask anyone who has been stuck sitting in traffic for hours on end each day as they try to commute into their jobs if they feel stressed, and the answer is typically a resounding “Yes .” In some cases, a crazy commute—combined with a lack of work flexibility—can force workers to take drastic measures. Case in point: this spring, one woman took her frustration with her company’s lack of workplace flexibility to the next level by suing them after they fired her.
Andrea DeGerolamo worked for Fulton Financial Corp, but claims that her commute was far too stressful for her. She went to a doctor who backed up her claims, stating that she “began to feel great anxiety and depression, which was especially aggravated by crowded roadways experienced during the heavy traffic of rush hour.” She took a medical leave in August 2012, and when she returned to work in November, she asked for a more flexible schedule, “by which she could come in after the morning rush hour and leave prior to the evening rush hour.”
She was subsequently demoted from her position as a marketing consultant with the company to more “clerical-type work.”
Despite the fact that she provided medical documentation attesting to the fact that her commute was essentially killing her—and objecting about the company’s decision to demote her through their ethics review board—DeGerolamo was fired from her job in May 2013.
While many might find this lawsuit to be frivolous, what this case really stresses is the necessity for greater workplace flexibility. It seems that what DeGerolamo really needed was a more flexible schedule to avoid having to spend hours stuck in traffic—and spare herself needless frustration. According to the lawsuit, she wasn’t even asking to work from home; she was willing to go in to the office each day, but wanted to avoid wasting extra hours stuck idling in traffic.
Her company’s decision to fire her spotlights how some companies are still, um, inflexible to grant workers more flexibility in their jobs. Career experts warn that there may be an increase in the amount of lawsuits similar to this one when more and more employees ask for—and do not receive—the flexibility they so need and deserve.
Readers, what do you think of this lawsuit? Do you think that DeGerolamo should have sued her former employer or simply looked for another job with more flex? Let us know in the comments section below!
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