State Attorney Andrew Bain sued by former top staffer fired while on maternity leave: Read the lawsuit

Keisha Mulfort, the former chief of staff to suspended State Attorney Monique Worrell, filed a lawsuit this week against State Attorney Andrew Bain after she was fired while on maternity leave in 2023. 

FOX 35 obtained the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Florida. It alleges that Mulfort's rights were violated in accordance with both the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992. 

Florida Supreme Court denies former State Attorney Monique Worrell's petition against Gov. DeSantis 

After Mulfort gave birth to her daughter on May 30, she went on maternity leave, which was scheduled to end around Aug. 24, 2023, according to the court documents. In early August, Mulfort requested additional leave after she was diagnosed with post-partum depression, the lawsuit added. Mulfort's attorneys said this health condition is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act and is defined as a "handicap" under the Florida Civil Rights Act. 

Keisha Mulfort, the former chief of staff for ousted State Attorney Monique Worrell, spoke with FOX 35 in August 2023. 

On Aug. 9, 2023, the day Worrell was suspended – which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said was because she "neglected her duty to faithfully prosecute crime in jurisdiction" – staffers within the State Attorney's Office attempted to contact Mulfort for "work-related activities" while she was on maternity leave, the lawsuit said. Attorneys called these actions "blatant violations" of Mulfort's rights. 

The next day, Orange County Sheriff's Office deputies showed up to her home to retrieve social media passwords and other state-owned property, like her laptop, car, badges and social media passwords. FOX 35 previously reported on this encounter

"Those were my friends," Mulfort said at the time about the investigators at her door who she used to work with. "My grievance is not about them, it’s about what they’re making people do."

When they left, Mulfort was blindsided by a termination letter with Bain's letterhead that was dated Aug. 10, 2023, and said Mulfort was terminated effective Aug. 9, 2023. 

"By objecting to the State Attorney’s Office interfering with her rights under the (Family and Medical Leave Act), refusing to perform work-related activities while on leave under the FMLA, and requesting leave for her own serious health condition, Plaintiff engaged in protected activity under the FMLA," the lawsuit said. "By repeatedly directing Plaintiff to perform work-related activities and then terminating her employment—all during her job-protected leave and shortly after she requested leave for her own serious health condition—Defendants violated Plaintiff’s rights under the FMLA."

Mulfort's firing was not only a direct violation of her rights under the Florida Civil Rights Act, according to the lawsuit, but was also "willful and done with malice."

State Attorney Andrew Bain talks about his first month in office 

Mulfort is suing on several counts, including interference and retaliation of the Family and Medical Leave Act and handicap and sex discrimination under the Florida Civil Rights Act. In addition to a jury trial, she's seeking compensation for lost wages and benefits, reinstatement to a position comparable to her previous one, front pay, liquidated and punitive damages and attorney's fees. 

State Attorney Andrew Bain speaks at a press conference on April 24, 2023. 

The State Attorney's Office issued the following statement about the lawsuit to FOX 35 on Thursday:

"We take compliance with state and federal employment laws very seriously and are prepared to vigorously defend the claims asserted as non-actionable," a spokesperson said. 

Lawsuit: Keisha Mulfort sues State Attorney Andrew Bain

Read the full lawsuit below: