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Shell Oil sued for allegedly firing woman on maternity leave

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 09.22.43By Annie Cosby: Published 31 March 2014 by The South East Texas Record

A Harris County woman is suing over claims her employment was unfairly terminated.

Nicole L. Ryder filed a lawsuit March 21 in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Texas (Houston Division) against Shell Oil Co. and Shell Exploration & Production Co., citing violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

According to the complaint, Ryder began employment with Shell in June 2008.  In August 2011, Ryder entered a Restricted Cash Agreement to Serve with Shell.

“Under that Agreement, in exchange for a retention payment of $60,300 to be paid at the conclusion of the retention period, Ms. Ryder agreed to remain employed at Shell through July 31, 2013,” the suit states.

In the Spring of 2013, Ms. Ryder learned that she was pregnant.

“Due to her pregnancy, Ryder experienced severe morning sickness, which required her to miss work on May 8th and 9th, as well as May 29th and 30th,” according to the suit.

She claims she informed Shell that she was pregnant and explained the reason for her absences. Shell asked that she complete the necessary paperwork  leave under the FMLA. Ryder says she completed and submitted the requested paperwork to Shell on June 27, 2013.

However, the FMLA forms submitted to Shell were incomplete, according to the suit. Specifically, the FMLA forms inadvertently failed to list the time period for the leave that was being requested under the FMLA.

Shell terminated Ryder’s employment on July 8, the suit states.

“Prior to terminating Ms. Ryder’s employment, no one from Shell explained to Ms. Ryder the basis for its claim that it had not received the proper FMLA forms,” the suit states.

“Instead of questioning Ms. Ryder and/or Ms. Ryder’s physician about the duration of the leave, Shell simply terminated Ms. Ryder’s employment,” the suit claims.

Ryder says Shell refused to pay any of the amount due under the retention agreement because she did not remain employed until July 31. But Ryder claims it was Shell that unlawfully terminated her July 8, just weeks before the end of the contract.

Ryder is seeking back pay, front pay and the amount due under the retention agreement.

She is being represented in the case by attorneys Nasim Ahmad of Cline Ahmad in The Woodlands.

U.S. Court for the Southern District of Texas (Houston Division) Case No. 14-CV-00726

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Texas. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note, a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it only represents one side of the story.

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Texas Woman Sues Shell Oil, Claiming She Was Fired While on Maternity Leave

Nicole Ryder of Harris County, Texas, has filed a federal lawsuit against Shell Oil Co., claiming that her employment was wrongfully terminated.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Houston Division), claiming violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In addition to Shell Oil Co., Shell Exploration & Production Co. was also named as a defendant.

According to the complaint, Ryder began working for Shell in June 2008. In August 2011, she signed a contract agreeing to remain employed with the company through July 31, 2013 in exchange for a retention payment of $60,300. Ryder learned she was pregnant in the spring of 2013.

Ryder claims she informed Shell of her pregnancy and stated that morning sickness had caused her to miss four days of work in May 2013. Ryder claims she was asked to submit leave paperwork under the FMLA and did so on June 27, 2013, but she inadvertently omitted the time period for which leave was requested. According to the lawsuit, her employment was terminated on July 8, 2013, and Shell declined to pay the retention bonus, asserting that Ryder did not remain employed until July 31.

Ryder is seeking the amount due under the retention agreement, back pay and front pay.

Gregory D. Jordan is an Oil and Gas lawyer in Austin. To learn more, visit http://www.theaustintriallawyer.com or call 512-419-0684.

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