Jackson County

She was 56 and sick when a Pascagoula bank fired her. Now she's suing for discrimination.

Merchants & Marine Bank in Pascagoula
Merchants & Marine Bank in Pascagoula Sun Herald file

A 34-year employee of Merchants & Marine Bank in Pascagoula claims in a federal lawsuit that she lost her job because of her age and the expensive medical treatment her employee health insurance covered.

Christine Tingle, 56, of Pascagoula said the bank ostensibly fired her for falsifying her time card. But she says in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Gulfport that the incorrect time card entry was a mistake employees make and are allowed to correct.

Tingle, an insurance specialist at the bank, said she was one of only two remaining employees allowed to work 30 hours a week but still receive benefits. She earned $23.75 an hour, the lawsuit says.

She also said the group insurance plan for Merchants & Marine had "significant expenses" from her $33,000 per month medical treatments for multiple sclerosis.

Tingle was supposed to clock out at 4 p.m. Sept. 1 to attend an employee bridal shower. Her lawsuit says she was busy helping the loan department with the usual end-of-day duties and rushed off to the shower without clocking out.

She said she clocked out at 4:30. On Sept. 11, she says, she was abruptly fired, even though she apologized for her mistake on the time card and asked that it be corrected.

Tingle said Merchants & Marine "routinely" corrected time card mistakes for employees and even had a form for doing so.

She said the bank replaced her with a younger employee at a "substantially lower" salary.

In addition to age discrimination, she is suing the bank for interfering with her right to health insurance through the employee plan.

In the lawsuit, filed by Louis H. Watson Jr. of Jackson, she seeks compensation for loss of her job, punitive damages, court costs and attorney's fees.

The lawsuit represents only Tingle's allegations. The bank will have 90 days to respond once it receives a copy.

Anita Lee can be reached at 228-896-2331or @CAnitaLee1