Ex-Aspen Valley Hospital nurse files federal complaint | AspenTimes.com

Ex-Aspen Valley Hospital nurse files federal complaint

Staff report

A former Aspen Valley Hospital nurse is suing the special district on allegations that it committed retaliation by firing her after she took too much time off due to work-related injuries.

Plaintiff Michelle Maranzano sued the hospital district Feb. 28 in Denver federal court, accusing the defendant of violating the Family Medical Leave Act.

Maranzano's complaint stems from two incidents at the hospital where she was assaulted by intoxicated patients, once in March 2009, the other in June 2014. Both assaults led to long-term injuries, while the 2014 attack resulted in doctor-ordered, weight-lifting restrictions at work for Maranzano, who now lives in Colorado Springs.

Maranzano also filed worker's compensation claims for both injuries, which included a broken jaw, vertigo, brain injury and wrist, neck and back injuries, among other physical setbacks.

In August and November 2015, Maranzano took a combined four weeks off from the hospital, under the Family Medical Leave Act, to be with her sick father in Alaska. That December, neck pains forced Maranzano to take another three weeks off.

Again, Maranzano filed a worker's compensation claim under the hospital's orders, the suit alleges.

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The hospital, however, applied that time off to Maranzano's FMLA allotment of days off.

In early 2016, the hospital instructed Maranzano to continue using FMLA time off, even though a doctor had cleared her to return to work with weigh-lifting restrictions, the suit alleges. On Feb. 18, 2016, the hospital fired Maranzano for "failure to return to work," the lawsuit alleges, "because of her use of FMLA leave and her request to be restored to her position."

The suit was filed by Denver attorney Kate W. Beckman. The hospital declined to comment about the lawsuit.