Woman who claims lung cancer diagnosis was basis for termination files federal complaint

Jon Campisi Aug. 25, 2011, 12:15pm

A former Chicago area resident who relocated herself and her young son to the Philadelphia region to take a job as a general manager of a local bowling alley is suing her former employer in federal court, alleging her firing, which occurred a year after her hiring, was related to her lung cancer diagnosis.

Washington, D.C. attorney David A. Dopsovic, of the law firm of Lasa, Monroig & Veve, LLP, filed the job discrimination lawsuit Aug. 23 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Linda K. Carlson of Kennett Square, Pa.

Named as defendants in the suit are Mechanicsville, Va.-based AMF Bowling Worldwide, Inc. and AMF Bowling Centers, Inc.

In the lawsuit, Carlson, who began work as general manager of Conchester Lanes in Boothwyn, Pa. in late May 2007, alleges that her firing nearly a year later, on April 15, 2008, was related to her eventual March 2008 lung cancer diagnosis, for which she had to take various medical leaves beginning back in late 2007, when she was still unsure of the nature of her health problems.

“Commencing in August 2007 and continuing at least through the date of her termination on April 15, 2008, Carlson had a ‘record’ of a physical impairment that substantially limited one or more major life activities, including, but not limited to, working, normal cell growth and reproduction, normal operation of the lymphatic system, breathing, and performing manual tasks,” the lawsuit states.

When Carlson informed her superiors that she would need to undergo full thoracic surgery to remove malignant growth on her lung, the defendant began to embark on a scheme to terminate her employment because of her medical conditions, the lawsuit claims.

“… when Plaintiff returned from medical leave, Plaintiff’s lung cancer diagnosis might be disruptive to the management of the troubled Conchester Lanes facility, a facility that suffered substantial financial and operational problems years before Plaintiff assumed her position,” the suit states. “[District management] perceived that Carlson’s severe medical condition would interfere with their goal of correcting the challenging operational and financial problems, and improving the profitability, of Conchester Lanes, and they decided to terminate Plaintiff upon her return from her medical leave and concoct as a pretext for such illegal termination that Plaintiff was terminated for unsatisfactory performance.”

Carlson was fired on the very same day she turned from her final medical leave following her surgery, April 15, 2008.

In August 2008, Carlson filed a charge of discrimination against her former employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the lawsuit states. AMF responded to the charge by saying the firing was for unsatisfactory work performance.

In her lawsuit, Carlson claims violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Carlson, who has demanded a jury trial, is seeking judgment against the defendant for unspecified compensatory damages, punitive damages, pre-and-post-judgment interest, attorney’s fees and other costs related to bringing forth the lawsuit.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-05331-RB.

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