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Pharmacist with aversion to needles sues drug store chain over dismissal

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Feb 26 2013 06:15:56 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 26 2013 06:27:40 PM CST
EASTON, Pa. -

A pharmacist is taking a drug store chain to court for firing him because of an aversion to needles that prevents him from administering immunization shots.

Leslie Fuller, of Bethlehem Twp., Northampton Co., filed a civil suit against the Rite Aid store at 104 East 3rd St., Bethlehem, Tuesday in Northampton County Court.

Fuller said in his suit that he worked for Rite Aid from 1973 to 2011 and that his employer was aware of his "deep psychological fear of hypodermic injection needles."

Fuller claims in the suit that the thought of giving or receiving an injection causes "extreme fear and anxiety," and aggravates a high-blood pressure condition that was diagnosed in 1992.

Fuller's troubles began on March 18, 2011, when he was told he would have to attend a class so he could be trained to give immunization injections, according to the suit.

Fuller said he would be unable to do so and produced a letter dated April 6 from his physician, Dr. Jolly B. Canlas, saying Fuller would be incapable of administering the injections because of his phobia, according to the suit.

On July 8, according to the suit, a Rite Aid human resources representative gave a copy of a revised job description to Fuller, and Canlas signed off on all of the duties except giving immunization injections.

On July 28, Fuller was told he could no longer work as a pharmacist for Rite Aid, according to the suit.

Fuller charges in the suit that Rite Aid violated the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act by not trying to accommodate his disability and using his age as a determining factor in his firing.

Fuller is asking the court order Rite Aid to compensate him for lost wages, anticipated wages, emotional distress and mental anguish. He also is seeking punitive damages.

Fuller's suit does not ask for specific amounts.

A media relations spokeswoman for Rite Aid said late Tuesday afternoon that the company was not aware of Fuller's lawsuit.