Jon Campisi Apr. 15, 2013, 7:14am

A Bucks County woman is suing her former employer over allegations that she was fired

from her job after only three months of work due to discriminatory reasons.

Kathryn L. Souders, of Bensalem, Pa., filed suit on April 12 in federal court in Philadelphia against Horsham-based Nextgen Healthcare Information Systems Inc., QSI Management LLC and Quality Systems Inc. over contentions that she was fired on April 19, 2012, in retaliation for her needing to take periodic time off for medical appointments relating to her anorexia.

Souders was first hired by Nextgen, which specializes in providing financial and other solutions to hospitals, health systems, doctor’s offices and other healthcare organizations, in early January of last year, according to her complaint, which was filed by Feasterville, Pa. attorney Bruce Preissman.

The plaintiff, who suffers from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, was told she would be working 40 hours per week with a one-hour lunch break.

In early April of last year, Souders claims she was called to a meeting with her manager, identified in the suit as Karen Bollinger, who brought up the fact that the plaintiff had scheduled eight medical appointments during business hours within her first 12 weeks of work.

About two weeks later, Souders met with a company human resources representative to discuss her concerns about the earlier conversation with Bollinger, the suit states.

The plaintiff explained that she was regularly made to work through her lunch, that she was rarely allowed to get food to eat, and that she was often required to work hours well in excess of the 40 per week for which she was originally hired without additional compensation, the complaint alleges.

She also claimed that those extra hours of work prevented her from attending her doctor’s appointments.

Souders also claims that Bollinger complained about the plaintiff’s regular attendance of medical appointments, that the manager often talked down to her, and that Souders made Bollinger “want to drink,” the suit says.

The human resource representative informed Souders that because she was a new employee, she was not covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, although Souders contended that she did, in fact, have rights under both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Souders was told to provide doctor’s notes in the future, and she was also encouraged to schedule a follow-up meeting with Bollinger about her concerns, which the plaintiff soon did.

After meeting with Bollinger on April 19 about the situation, Souders was told she was being discharged, the complaint states.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of violating the ADA, the FLSA, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law.

Souders claims that she has suffered “substantial” economic harm, including lost wages and benefits, as a result of her termination.

The plaintiff also claims she experienced emotional distress as a result of her ordeal.

Souders seeks back pay and benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, the awarding of unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, attorney’s fees, costs and other court relief.

She is also demanding a jury trial.

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-01957-JD. 

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