Woman sues employer, hours cut after MS diagnosis

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A former Helena employee of the Billings-based CTA Architects is suing the company, saying her hours were cut and her benefits eliminated after she informed the company that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and was pregnant.

Michelle Campbell filed her lawsuit on March 26 in U.S. District Court in Helena, The Billings Gazette (http://bit.ly/1hkdknC) reported Thursday. CTA President Scott Wilson said the company denies allegations of discrimination or wrongdoing.

It alleges that in January 2013, Campbell informed her office manager she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The manager suggested she get a second opinion, and a Seattle specialist confirmed the diagnosis of the disease in which the body's immune system attacks the protective sheath that covers the nerves.

In February 2013, Campbell informed CTA human resources that she had multiple sclerosis and was pregnant. Six weeks later, CTA cut her weekly work hours as administrative assistant from 40 to 16, thus eliminating all of her job benefits, the lawsuit alleges.

She was told the change was made "due to low projected work load in the coming months," the lawsuit said. However, in the following months, CTA's Helena office added at least two new employees, including a senior engineer whose hiring process had begun in February 2013. Wilson has said the company has 18 offices in the United States and Canada. Its website says it employs more than 360 people.

Campbell is seeking damages including coverage of more than $25,000 in outstanding medical bills, lost pay, reinstatement of benefits and damages for health problems exacerbated by her loss of benefits and resulting lack of medical treatment.

A Montana Human Rights Bureau investigation found "reasonable cause" to believe the company discriminated against Campbell because of her health conditions. That report was signed on Jan. 14, giving the parties 30 days to reach a settlement.

No settlement was reached, so the case is scheduled to be heard by a hearing examiner in October, said her attorney, Todd Shea of Bozeman.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com

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