Jon Campisi Feb. 3, 2012, 9:28am

A Delaware County, Pa. woman who claims she was laid off from her job as an event planner for Media, Pa.-based Natural Lands Trust Inc. shortly after her superiors became aware of a medical condition with which she was diagnosed has filed a lawsuit against her former employer in federal court.

Philadelphia attorney Gerald Jay Pomerantz filed the civil action Jan. 31 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Springfield, Pa. resident Mandy Santiago.

The lawsuit claims that Santiago, who was hired to do event planning and fundraising for the Natural Lands Trust in October 2007, was fired from her position soon after the defendant discovered that Santiago suffered from spinal arthritis and sciatica.

The impairment caused Santiago to have difficulty climbing stairs, bending, sitting or standing for long periods of time, but otherwise it didn’t have an extreme effect on her working abilities, the lawsuit states.

“Plaintiff’s disability did not in any way prevent her from performing all the essential duties of her employment, with minimal accommodation,” the lawsuit states.

Nevertheless, the complaint alleges, the defendant informed Santiago in early January 2011 that she was going to be laid off from her job.

“The alleged reasons given for plaintiff’s termination was that her disability placed a burden on her co-workers,” the complaint states, contending that the reasons for the firing were pretextual, and that the plaintiff believes that she was actually fired because of her disability and handicap.

The suit also claims that another factor in Santiago’s termination was the defendant’s “intent to retaliate against plaintiff” for requesting what she termed “reasonable” accommodations relating to her physical ailments.

As a direct result of the defendant’s “discriminatory and wrongful conduct,” the lawsuit alleges, Santiago has incurred a loss of earnings, loss of benefits and emotional anguish.

The lawsuit accuses the defendant of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Santiago demands judgment in the form of unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as litigation costs and other court relief.

The federal case number is 2:12-cv-00502-PBT.

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