Former nurse sues Aria Health System for wrongful termination

Jon Campisi Nov. 29, 2011, 6:54am

A woman who was fired from her job as a registered nurse at an area healthcare facility after a 30-year career has filed a job discrimination lawsuit against the agency.

Margaret Knapp, of Langhorne, Pa., alleges in her complaint that she was terminated in July 2010 because of her age, and because she had raised complaints after disparate treatment earlier on.

The lawsuit, which was filed Nov. 23 at federal court in Philadelphia by Bensalem, Pa. attorney Ari R. Karpf, states that the official reason for Knapp’s termination by the Aria Health System was that she had failed to follow a doctor’s orders by “delaying in removal of a catheter.”

The suit, however, states that Knapp was permitted to delay removing the catheter due to the patient’s own request, and because she was assisting another nurse with an emergency situation.

The complaint alleges that Knapp was really fired because of her age and because she had expressed complaints about discriminatory treatment.

According to the lawsuit, Knapp was “immediately disciplined” in late 2009 after she expressed concerns of age and race discrimination to management.

Knapp had complained that her immediate supervisor had expressed concerns about having Knapp work in the oncology unit when Knapp, 52, had a past history of cancer and that she may be “too old” to work in the department under the circumstances, the suit states.

The lawsuit also alleges that after complaining of disparate treatment, Knapp informed her supervisor that other nurses were never disciplined because they were black, and not white like Knapp. The supervisor allegedly told Knapp that “we have to be careful with them because they are black,” the suit claims, a something that Knapp claimed was discriminatory in itself.

Knapp had earlier complained that she was being singled out and picked on because of her age, the suit states. She had complained that younger employees were being treated differently than she was being treated.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants, Philadelphia-based Aria Health System and Aria Health-Frankford, of wrongful termination, retaliation, and violations of the federal Civil Rights Act.

Knapp seeks front and back pay, actual damages, liquidated damages, punitive damages, as well as damages for pain and suffering and humiliation.

Knapp also seeks litigation costs and other court relief. She has demanded a jury trial.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-07313-CDJ.

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