An Oceanside woman is suing her former employer for allegedly firing her for taking medical and family leave.
Was she unfairly fired? Or did she show little commitment to the job, leading her employer to believe she no longer wanted to work there?
That is the issue in a civil suit that the plaintiff's attorney says should serve as a word of caution.
Vivienne Parra, 39, says she took three weeks of leave from her job when she had a mastectomy in 2009, and then another three weeks when she delivered her baby, now four years old.
In between, she says she went to work as best she could, considering all of her medical appointments, always giving her employer advanced notice and documentation.
But then, the following year she had another mastectomy as a preventative measure, and took another leave.
"I put all my effort into this job and even how sick I was I came in. I didn't have my hair, I'd come in, and I worked hard and I was pregnant; tired from day one," Parra said.
In her civil suit, Parra says she was fired after the employer, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, formerly Potomac Hospital, claimed "she no longer desired employment."
"Employers are using the fact their employees are on leave as a way to get rid of them," said her attorney, David Scher, with The Employment Law Group in Virginia.
He said this appears to be a growing trend with companies trying to downsize in the wake of tough economic times.
Scher says the alleged firing is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act.
In response to the suit, the employer denied the allegations.