A Philadelphia woman who worked as a certified nursing assistant for Hahnemann University Hospital before her firing has filed a job discrimination lawsuit against her former employer in federal court, alleging her termination was unlawful.
Kendra Funchez-Cohen alleges in her complaint, which was filed Jan. 6 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Philadelphia attorney Sidney L. Gold, that she was fired on Aug. 9, 2010, after she was informed by human resource representatives that she would lose her job if her physician didn’t remove her medical restrictions.
The light-duty work restrictions, the lawsuit claims, came in response to a medical diagnosis in January 2010, at which time the plaintiff discovered she had Lumbar Neuropathy, a disability recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act as being something that impairs one’s ability to walk, lift, sit and stand.
Funchez-Cohen’s diagnosis came after she had applied for workers' compensation related to another incident, that one an October 2009 work-related injury that occurred while attempting to move a patient while on duty, the lawsuit states.
The complaint states that while the hospital initially accommodated Funchez-Cohen by allowing her to work light-duty, it soon reversed course, and forced her to take a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act after a month of light-duty restrictions.
“Subsequently thereto, the Defendant barred Plaintiff Funchez-Cohen from returning to work due to her physician’s insistence that she could only return to work on a light duty schedule,” the lawsuit states.
In June 2010, Funchez-Cohen applied for an open lab technician position, the suit states, which would have enabled her to work without medical restrictions since it didn’t entail heaving lifting.
“Immediately thereafter, in retaliation for filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and for exercising her rights under the FMLA, the Defendant denied Plaintiff Funchez-Cohen’s application due to the fact that she had an open workers’ compensation claim,” the lawsuit alleges.
Funchez-Cohen was fired from her job, which she had held since July 2008, shortly thereafter.
The lawsuit accuses the defendant, Tenet Health Philadelphia Inc., the parent company of Hahnemann University Hospital, of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
Funchez-Cohen seeks lost pay, compensatory and punitive damages and additional court relief. She has demanded a jury trial.
The federal case number is 2:12-cv-00075-LP.