Discrimination alleged

Nicole Vulcan

A former University staff member who alleges she was discriminated against for her illnesses, filed a lawsuit against Fairview Hospital in federal court.
According to the complaint filed Wednesday, Jodi Malmquist worked as an administrative assistant at Fairview Hospital and Healthcare Services from October 1995 through August 1998. Fairview is affiliated with Fairview University Medical Center.
Malmquist claims she was terminated from her position in 1998 because her medical conditions caused her to miss 554 hours of work.
In July 1998, Malmquist missed one week of work because of illness. When she returned, she claims she was moved to a dusty, ill-ventilated area of the facility, subsequently causing her to be hospitalized. Malmquist was served with a letter on Aug. 5 stating she had exhausted her medical leave. The letter served as Malmquist’s termination notice, the complaint states.
Paul Zech, attorney for Fairview, denies all allegations made against the hospital. Though he would not comment further on the case, he said he expects the matter to take as long as a year before it is heard in court.
Neither Malmquist nor her attorney, Jeffrey Loftness, would comment on the case, but Malmquist did note she is also involved in a medical malpractice suit with Fairview.
Malmquist suffers from diabetes, asthma, blood clots, stroke and peripheral neuropathy, conditions which limit her ability to work. In spite of these ailments, she stated in her complaint that she was able to perform her work duties with reasonable accommodation, a provision outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Malmquist stated in her report that her director, Judith Hassig, “repeatedly criticized, badgered and browbeat” her about her repeated medical absences. Hassig, who currently works at Fairview Southdale Hospital, was unavailable for comment.
Malmquist also bases her complaint on allegations that in April 1998, she received a 2 percent raise. She believes other administrative assistants in her department received higher raises. Other complaints against Fairview include limiting her employment to part-time and inadequately accommodating her physical limitations.
The complaint was originally filed in Hennepin County District Court April 9, but was moved to U.S. District Court Wednesday.