Two former Sunrise Senior Living employees sue retirement facility for discrimination and retaliation

Jon Campisi Feb. 22, 2012, 6:30am

A woman who claims she was fired from her job as a care manager at an area senior living facility because of her race has filed a federal discrimination complaint against her former employer.

In her lawsuit, which was filed Feb. 20 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Bensalem, Pa. attorney Ari R. Karpf, Philadelphia resident Clara Montgomery alleges she was terminated from her job with Sunrise Senior Living Inc. in May 2011 after two years of employment for discriminatory and retaliatory reasons.

Montgomery worked for the Sunrise facility in Dresher, Pa.

According to the complaint, Montgomery, who is of African ancestry, experienced racially disparaging treatment by coworkers, many of whom are in supervisory positions, including mocking the plaintiff’s accent, telling Montgomery to return to her own country and making the assumption that she was illiterate.

In the weeks preceding her termination last spring, Montgomery made multiple complaints of racial/national origin discrimination to management, after which she was accused of insubordination and misconduct in the workplace, the lawsuit claims.

Montgomery was terminated on May 23, 2011.

One of Montgomery’s supervisors, Yolanda Hunt, who had knowledge of the plaintiff’s complaining of discriminatory treatment was also fired for “insisting that the discrimination against Plaintiff cease,” the complaint alleges.

Karpf filed a separate lawsuit against Sunrise on Feb. 20 on Hunt’s behalf. That complaint alleges that Hunt, who had worked for the defendant since January 2009, was fired in late May 2011 when she “sought to prevent continued mistreatment of Montgomery.”

“Plaintiff believes and therefore avers that her termination was primarily motivated by opposition to Defendant’s discrimination against Montgomery and her attempts to remedy the hostile work environment that existed based upon Montgomery’s race and national origin,” Hunt’s lawsuit states.

Both lawsuits accuse the defendant of violating the federal Civil Rights Act.

The Montgomery complaint contains counts of hostile work environment, discrimination and retaliation, while the Hunt lawsuit only contains counts of retaliation.

Both Montgomery and Hunt seek to have the defendant create a policy prohibiting retaliation and discrimination in the workplace.

The women also seek back pay, front pay, benefits, actual damages, damages for pain, suffering and humiliation, unspecified punitive damages, litigation costs and other legal and equitable relief.

Jury trials are being demanded.

The Montgomery case number is 2:12-cv-00869.

The Hunt case number is 2:12-cv-00870.

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