Worker sues after ‘belligerent’ boss allegedly gives him a heart attack



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A Pennsylvania man says his belligerent boss gave him a heart attack.

Smoking, overeating and poor sleep can be hazardous to your heart health.

So can a rough boss, according to the accusations in a new lawsuit from a man who claims his supervisor’s “continuing, bullying behavior” caused his heart attack.

More than a year after Mathew Tharakan’s cardiac scare, the staffer in Pennsylvania’s public transit authority is suing his employer in federal court.

The complaint Tharakan filed earlier this month alleges he endured discrimination because of his Indian origin and the undeserved “laser-focused disdain” of his boss — before and after his September 2017 heart attack.

Tharakan’s suit against the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is seeking at least $150,000 in damages.

The worker, who’s been with the transit authority for nearly 30 years, joined its Business Division in May 2016. He worked as the disadvantaged business enterprise manager and reported to Mary Connell, the disadvantaged business enterprise director.

The alleged harassment started early and included one February 2017 “fit of rage” from Connell after Tharakan’s suggestion to hire a data analyst. Connell told Tharakan with her “loud, threatening, belligerent voice” to “get out of my office” and he was “concerned in that moment that he would be a victim of workplace violence,” the court papers said. Connell is not a named defendant in the suit, even though she’s at the heart of Tharakhan’s claims. She did not respond to a request for comment.

The suit says the job stress and Connell’s conduct were too tough on his ticker, resulting in the September 2017 heart attack that led to two months of medical leave. The filing says nothing one way or another about Tharakan’s health before he started working for Connell.

In any event, Tharakan said Connell subsequently transferred him “to a cold warehouse alone with no heat and no windows” after he complained about his treatment.

Meanwhile, the transit authority failed to handle the alleged mistreatment, Tharakan contended.

Putting aside Tharakan’s allegations about Connell, or what the man’s health was before his heart attack, studies show there are links between stress and cardio well-being.

One study released earlier this year found adults age 45 and above coping with depression and anxiety faced heightened risks of cardiovascular disease.

Likewise, there’s evidence that job strains can wear down a person’s mental health. Earlier this year, one study determined 14% of common mental illnesses would be avoided if working conditions weren’t so tough.

Other research has traced fewer vacation days and days out of the office with increased mortality.

Tharakan is still employed at the transit authority, a SEPTA spokeswoman confirmed. She declined to comment on the pending litigation. Tharakan’s lawyer declined to comment.

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Andrew Keshner is a personal finance reporter based in New York.

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