Phila. catering business faces wrongful termination complaint

Jon Campisi Feb. 1, 2012, 8:07am

A Philadelphia man who claims he was fired from his job of more than four years for reasons related to his mental and physical health has filed a complaint against former employer in federal court.

Jermaine Butler, 35, contends his firing from Philadelphia-based Betty the Caterer in late January 2011 was related to the employer finding out that Butler was seeking treatment for psychiatric health.

Butler had been undergoing treatment related to the death of his child.

The lawsuit, which was filed Jan. 30 at federal court in Philadelphia by Bucks County, Pa. lawyer Ari R. Karpf, accuses the defendant, BTC Foods Inc., of terminating Butler for untrue reasons.

The complaint alleges that Butler was told he was fired for having a criminal record. In reality, the defendant knew about Butler’s past run-ins with the law prior to his hiring.

The lawsuit also claims that the defendant employs others with criminal records, as well as those who were on probation and living in halfway houses.

Butler, who was hired in 2007, sustained a work-related hernia in the spring of 2010 and took medical leave for a couple months, returning in June 2010, the suit states.

The complaint states that Butler, who had for years been seeing a psychiatrist to treat depression related to the death of his child, confided in his management that he was suffering from depression and taking medication. This happened in late 2010.

After this revelation, management began treating Butler in a “distant manner” and were “unnecessarily hostile” towards him when they interacted with him, the lawsuit claims.

He was terminated from his position shortly thereafter.

The lawsuit accuses the defendant of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and Pennsylvania common law.

The complaint contains counts of discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination and violating Pennsylvania public policy.

Butler seeks to have the defendant adopt of a policy of nondiscrimination. He also seeks actual damages, compensatory and punitive damages, litigation costs and other equitable and legal relief.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:12-cv-00492.

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