Aria Health faces wrongful termination and discrimination complaint

Jon Campisi Feb. 25, 2012, 7:56am

A former hospital social worker who alleges she was fired from her job of nearly a decade for reasons related to her health has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against her former employer.

Bensalem, Pa. attorney Ari R. Karpf filed the federal complaint Feb. 24 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Philadelphia resident Diane Getley.

The defendants named in the suit are Philadelphia-based Aria Health and Aria Health System.

The complaint alleges that Getley, who worked for the Frankford Health Care System before the defendant took over what was then known as Frankford Hospital, experienced a host of health conditions, such as spinal problems, thyroid problems, fibromyalgia, depression, carpel tunnel syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Despite her health problems, however, Getley was able to carry out her professional duties, the suit claims.

In October 2008, however, Getley had to take one to two months off from work to have surgery. In conjunction with her medical leave, Getley informed her employer about the various health problems from which she suffered.

The health problems got worse in 2010 and 2011, the lawsuit claims, at which point Getley told management she wanted to discuss the possibility of getting special accommodations.

Specifically, Getley said she needed help with lifting, was hoping for general assistance with a particular work assignment, and might need to take periodic time off from work, the suit states. She also brought up the possibility of being able to take work breaks from time to time.

The special accommodations were never granted, though, and management exhibited “animosity” toward Getley for her requested accommodations and “expressed disbelief with Plaintiff’s actual health problems to her,” the suit claims.

Getley was terminated on March 25, 2011 for reasons the lawsuit claims were related to Getley’s health conditions and requests for accommodations.

The lawsuit accuses Aria of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit contains counts of actual and perceived discrimination, failure to accommodate and retaliation.

The complaint also accuses the defendant of violating the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Getley seeks to have Aria Health prohibited from illegally discriminating against employees. She also seeks lost and future earnings, unspecified punitive damages, litigation costs, and other legal and equitable relief.

Getley has demanded a jury trial.

The federal case number is 2:12-cv-00965-MMB.

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