Philadelphia woman files job discrimination complaint against former employer

Jon Campisi Dec. 13, 2011, 1:46pm

A native Liberian woman who alleges her termination last year from her job as a direct caregiver for an Arizona-based retirement community has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the company.

Upper Darby, Pa. resident Martha E. Turay is suing Media, Pa.-based NSL Rose Tree Place, LLC and Tucson, Ariz.-based Watermark Retirement Communities in federal court in Philadelphia.

The civil rights complaint was filed Dec. 8 by Penndel, Pa. attorneys Timothy M. Kolman, Wayne A. Ely, Eman Abouelseoud and Lalena J. Turchi of the firm Kolman Ely, P.C.

The lawsuit was filed more than a year-and-a-half after Turay filed complaints of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

She was subsequently issued a right-to-sue letter by the EEOC paving the way for this civil action.

The complaint alleges that Turay, who is African, was unlawfully terminated from her job on Jan. 21, 2010.

The company, which hired Turay in September 2006, alleged that Turay was terminated because she did not possess the qualifications required by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare involving direct care staff persons hired after Nov. 10, 2005, the suit states.

According to the complaint, the defendant’s business office manager claimed that Turay was required to have a non-U.S. high school diploma accepted through the waiver process under the welfare department’s regulations.

“Plaintiff was supposed to show that her documentation of the non-U.S. educational program was ‘similar to or exceeds U.S. educational requirements,’” the lawsuit states. “In fact, contrary to Defendant’s assertions, the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare Regulations … does not require a non-U.S. high school diploma to be accepted through any waiver process.”

Regulations simply require a high school diploma and “says nothing about any waiver process or any equivalent educational program being similar to or exceeding U.S. educational requirements,” the suit states.

The complaint alleges that the defendants willfully misrepresented the basis of Turay’s termination, which was actually a result of her Liberian origin and African race.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of national origin discrimination, race discrimination, federal civil rights violations and violations of Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act.

The lawsuit seeks to have the defendants permanently enjoined from discriminating and retaliating against employees based upon their origin or race.

The suit also seeks back pay, front pay, bonuses, salary increases, medical and other benefits for Turay, as well as actual damages, damages for pain and suffering, unspecified punitive damages, equitable and legal relief, and other court costs.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-07550-RK.

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