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The widower of a 29-year-old woman who died by suicide after a lengthy battle with her employer over her service dog and other work accommodations is suing the Ulta Beauty salon company in federal court.

Lanie Zimney worked as a hair stylist at the Ulta salon in St. Cloud for about five months in early 2019. When she disclosed she was pregnant, she was abruptly escorted from the store and told she couldn't work until she provided paperwork on the accommodations she required because of her disability, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court.

The lawsuit claims Ulta violated Zimney's rights and asks to reward Zimney's husband Allan for damages.

An Ulta representative did not return a request for comment. The company's response to the lawsuit is due at the end of this month.

According to the complaint, Ulta hired Zimney as a stylist after she was recruited by a former co-worker. During the application process, Zimney disclosed the existence of multiple, chronic physical and mental conditions, including bipolar disorder, conversion disorder, hip dysplasia and fibromyalgia.

She was in constant pain, Allan Zimney told the Star Tribune. But, he said, she was still bubbly and loved her job. "Most of her clients became friends," he said.

During the interview process, Lanie Zimney told management that she could provide medical documentation for her accommodations, but no one required it. So she worked for more than four months on a full-time weekday schedule with occasional weekend shifts.

Her accommodations included access to a water bottle and chair at her work station, as well as her service dog, Bingo, who was trained to remind Zimney to take her medications, retrieve medicine or water and respond to seizures.

The complaint says that in early 2019, co-workers "witnessed Ms. Zimney suffer a spell of wooziness, saw Bingo come to her aid, and then fetch medications [which] allowed Ms. Zimney to get back up and continue with her workday."

Allan Zimney said he didn't think customers minded Bingo, a friendly collie with a shiny tawny coat. "Unless there's an issue, he's laying down, waiting to do his job," he said.

In May 2019, when Zimney told management she was pregnant, "Ulta withdrew its accommodations, barred Ms. Zimney from the workplace, and demanded Ms. Zimney run through a paperwork gauntlet," the complaint states.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states an employer can't ask for documentation on a request for reasonable accommodation when the need is obvious or the individual has already provided the employer with sufficient information.

But Zimney was suddenly escorted off the property and told she couldn't return until Ulta received the "medical documentation to substantiate what had already been in place and working effectively for more than four months," according to the complaint.

Allan Zimney said his wife called him as she was walked out of the store and told she needed new forms filled out. But, he said, it took time to schedule appointments with her specialists.

After months of back-and-forth with the company's human resources department, "Ulta ultimately caved, claiming to accept the medical documentation Ms. Zimney had said she possessed from the beginning," the complaint states.

However, when she returned to the salon in August 2019, management reduced her shifts, which meant she didn't work enough hours to receive medical insurance, according to the complaint.

In addition, she reportedly was told she had to work an evening shift, which didn't work with the child care schedule for their three children.

Lanie Zimney was "effectively, constructively discharged," attorney Benjamin Kwan said. "What it comes down to is the employer did enough that any reasonable person would know they've already been fired."

Allan Zimney said his wife later felt dehumanized and suffered from depression. She died by suicide on Oct. 8, 2020, at their home in Ogilvie, Minn.

"This case really underscores how much we, as a society, ask of working parents. And, in turn, Lanie Zimney asked so little of her employer," Kwan said. "This case really shows when employers take simple accommodations away, we immediately see how quickly things can fall apart for disabled workers."

In April 2023, the director of the local EEOC office found "reasonable cause to believe that [Ulta] discriminated and retaliated against [Zimney] based on disability and sex (pregnancy) by suspending her, denying her reasonable accommodation and demoting her."

Allan Zimney now lives with his children and Bingo in northwestern Wisconsin, where he owns a collision repair shop. He said the children have some behavioral issues, especially during the time of year when their classrooms are making art projects for Mother's Day. But they talk about their mom often — and find time to watch online videos of her singing.

"I mean, you do the best you can," he said. "Obviously it's not ideal."