(From left: Kiki Paris before her accident, and afterwards wearing a halo neckbrace and holding her separation papers from MSLO)
A former Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia employee has filed suit against the company in Manhattan district court, claiming the media company violated federal employment laws after forcing her to return to work too soon after a debilitating injury and then firing her soon after.
FishbowlNY reported exclusively about this case back in April when Kiki Paris, a former senior director of national accounts at MSLO’s Body + Soul magazine, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Paris fractured her spine in May 2008 after being hit by a car, forcing her to undergo surgery to screw her fractured vertebrae together. She was placed in a halo neckbrace for 12 weeks to immobilize her spine, and was instructed to stay home from work on disability leave for three months.
But, according to Paris, her supervisors at Body + Soul pressured her to go off disability and begin working from home nine weeks after her accident. Then, less than a month after she returned to work, she was fired. Although the company was undergoing restructuring at the time, Paris alleges that her injury was the main reason she was laid off. Paris, who worked for the company for two and half years, claimed that prior to her injury she had brought in millions of dollars in revenue for the company and had a great reputation among its major advertisers.
After filing a complaint with the EEOC earlier this year, Paris received a right to sue from the federal agency in July. On Tuesday, she filed her complaint against MSLO, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, among others.