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Hooksett school officials deny fired supervisor was accused of suffering from Alzheimer's

BRENTWOOD — The Hooksett School District denies that a fired nutritional supervisor was accused of having Alzheimer’s disease and has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit over her firing in 2015.

In recently filed court documents, the district denies many of the allegations outlined in Cynthia O’Brien’s lawsuit against the district, School Administrative Unit 15, and Food Services Director Cindy Nusbaum.

The suit, filed in Rockingham County Superior Court, alleges discrimination, hostile work environment, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

O’Brien took action after she was fired from Hooksett’s David R. Cawley Middle School, where she was hired as a nutritional supervisor in 2013. She argued the school district “mistakenly believed” that she suffered a cognitive impairment.

She says she had no medical limitations that affected her work, but alleges Nusbaum t called her into her office and stated that she believed O’Brien had Alzheimer’s disease. School officials deny the claim, according to their response filed recently through their attorney, Daniel Schwarz of Jackson Lewis P.C.

O’Brien also claims Nusbaum accused her of being unorganized and a safety risk and had a cognitive impairment.

School officials admit that Nusbaum believed O’Brien was disorganized and posed a safety risk.

While O’Brien denied she suffered from a disability, school officials said the district’s human resources director placed her on involuntary paid leave and told her to get a doctor’s note saying she was able to return to work and perform essential functions of her job.

O’Brien claims she eventually saw a doctor who found no signs of dementia but suggested therapy to rule out any cognitive problems. Following therapy sessions, the suit said the doctor determined that she didn’t have Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairments.

“The defendants admit that a physician provided a note dated June 17, 2015, wherein he opined that plaintiff did not suffer from a cognitive impairment,” the district said in its response.

O’Brien claims the school refused to accept the doctor’s note. School officials claim the note “was not satisfactory as it did not address the plaintiff’s ability to perform the essential functions of her job.”

O’Brien eventually returned to her job as nutritional supervisor when the new school year began in August 2015, but was then fired. School officials deny her claim that she was let go after a janitor reported that a steam pilot was left on in the kitchen. O’Brien’s suit asks that she be reinstated and receive compensatory damages for lost wages and benefits, and emotional pain and suffering.

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