Former Panera Bread Co. asst. manager sues for retaliatory firing

Jon Campisi Feb. 14, 2012, 7:10am

A former Panera Bread employee has filed a federal lawsuit against the company, alleging her firing after two years of employment was in retaliation for her complaints over discriminatory treatment.

Philadelphia resident Mia A. Bird claimed she was fired from her position as assistant manager at a Wynnewood, Pa. Panera Bread store in early April 2010 after the defendant, American Bread Company, subjected Bird to various adverse employment actions such as not allowing her to exercise disciplinary actions against subordinates; requiring her to take subordinate disciplinary actions to other supervisors, which was not required of other assistant managers; and consistently finding Bird’s subordinate disciplinary allegations to be unsubstantiated.

In her complaint, Bird claims that these actions were done in retaliation for her filing a complaint with human resources in October 2009 on the grounds of gender and race discrimination.

Bird, who is black, filed complaints the following month with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In February 2010, after the aforementioned alleged retaliatory acts perpetuated by the defendant took place, the company issued a written warning against Bird for allegedly making two false complaints against her coworkers, the lawsuit states.

The first complaint was against a fellow assistant manager and the second complaint was against a district manager and a general manager.

On March 30, 2010, the suit states, the company found Bird in violation of its written warning, ruling Bird had an “ongoing pattern of treating associates in a confrontational manner.

Bird was fired on April 5 of that year.

The lawsuit contains counts of retaliation and discrimination, claiming Bird was engaged in protected activity when she dually filed administrative agency complaints with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prior to her eventual firing.

“There is a causal connection between Plaintiff’s engaging in protected activity and Defendant’s adverse employment actions,” the lawsuit states.

Bird seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees and other court costs.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:12-cv-00727-CMR.

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