Philadelphia woman sues former company for wrongful termination

Jon Campisi Sep. 19, 2011, 6:48am

A woman who claims she was fired from her job of 13 years at an area packaging and container company for gender related reasons has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against her former employer and its parent company.

Luz Rivera, of Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood, is suing Missouri-based Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. and Georgia-based Rock-Tenn Services Inc. for firing her in early October 2010 for alleged insubordination.

Rivera claims her termination was actually related to her gender.

The lawsuit was filed Sept. 15 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Bensalem, Pa. attorney Ari Karpf of Karpf & Karpf, P.C.

According to the complaint, Rivera, who was one of the only female employees to work at the company’s Philadelphia office, was disciplined by a superior the day before she was fired for not signing inspection tags.

Male employees had also not been signing inspection tags, the suit states, but they were not reprimanded or disciplined for it.

At the same time, Rivera told her superior that another manager had told her not to sign the tags, thereby creating the problem of contradictory directives.

Nevertheless, Rivera was suspended on Oct. 7 for the alleged workplace violation. She was terminated later that same day.

The lawsuit claims that the company engaged in gender discrimination when it disciplined, and subsequently fired, Rivera. It alleges violations of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Through her suit, Rivera seeks to have the defendants prohibited from continuing their alleged policy of discrimination. She also seeks to be compensated for lost and future earnings, benefits, salary increases, and other job related perks, as well as punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other court costs deemed appropriate.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-05819-JHS.

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