Bucks County, Pa. hospital faces wrongful termination lawsuit

Jon Campisi Aug. 19, 2011, 10:22am

A woman who worked for a Bucks County, Pa. hospital for nearly three decades before being terminated has filed a federal lawsuit against her former employer, alleging her firing was discriminatory.

Bensalem, Pa. attorney Ari Karpf, of the firm Karpf & Karpf, P.C., filed the federal civil rights complaint Aug. 17 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Sharon Smith of Levittown, Pa.

Named as defendant in the lawsuit is Langhorne, Pa.-based Saint Mary Medical Center.

According to the complaint, Smith, 59, who worked as a registered nurse for St. Mary Medical Center for 27 years, was fired in June 2010. The termination came five years after she suffered a stroke, subsequently missing one month of work, and mere months after her husband’s passing, for which she took some time off for bereavement.

“Plaintiff was reinstated following her absences, but Defendant provided no accommodations for Plaintiff’s serious health issues,” the lawsuit contends.

Six months prior to her termination, the lawsuit states, Smith told her direct supervisor that she was seeing a mental health professional to deal with her anxieties related to her husband’s passing. From there, the supervisor appeared determined to find a reason to terminate Smith’s employment.

The supervisor “continually and inappropriately commented about Plaintiff’s age,” the suit claims. “Plaintiff was singled out and disciplined for crying and for showing emotion in the workplace.”

Furthermore, as a physical effect of her earlier Stroke, Smith was no longer able to prevent tear formation, the complaint states, meaning she would appear to be crying on occasion without provocation.

Smith was placed on a Performance Improvement Action Plan in May 2010, the suit states. She was fired the following month.

In the lawsuit, Smith accuses her former employer of violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. She also alleges retaliatory discharge, wrongful termination and a hostile work environment.

Smith seeks to have the defendant’s barred from continuing their “illegal policy, practice or custom of discriminating/retaliating against employees.” She also seeks compensatory damages for lost and future earnings, as well as punitive damages for the defendant’s “willful, deliberate, malicious and outrageous conduct” the lawsuit states.

Smith has demanded a jury trial.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-05207-GP.

More News