Jon Campisi Jun. 19, 2013, 1:00pm


A Philadelphia-based ambulance company discriminated against a former emergency medical technician because of her age and gender, according to a newly filed civil complaint.

Carol Alcaro Willoughby, who resides in Bristol, Pa., is suing Rhawnhurst-Bustleton Ambulance Association, which is located in Northeast Philadelphia, over claims that the defendant regularly discriminated against the 61-year-old female because of her age.

Willoughby was employed by the ambulance company from the fall of 1999 until last spring, when, the suit alleges, she was terminated for unlawful reasons.

The suit says that despite the fact that the plaintiff always performed her job duties in an “exemplary manner,” never received any disciplinary write-ups or infractions, and regularly received positive feedback from her supervisors, Willoughby was nevertheless ultimately dismissed from her job and told to go “work at a nursing home.”

According to the complaint, the defendant subjected Willoughby to numerous instances of discrimination based on gender and age throughout the course of her employment.

At the time of her March 2012 termination, the suit says, Willoughby was the only female employee out of about 20 EMTs who worked on ambulances.

The plaintiff, who became a full-time EMT in 2010, was also among the three oldest company employees.

In one incident highlighted in the suit, a fellow EMT in his mid-20s told the plaintiff that emptying the trash was a “woman’s job,” and that women should not be allowed to work on ambulances.

In another example of discriminatory behavior, the same colleague was witnessed ripping apart and throwing out applications for employment sent in by female applicants.

The defendant also regularly mandated the plaintiff and another female EMT clean the male restrooms, the suit states, although male employees were never made to do the same.

The complaint states that Willoughby eventually complained to a supervisor about the discriminatory treatment, but that no corrective action was ever taken.

The plaintiff claims that after complaining about having her hours reduced, a supervisor became “irrationally irate” with her during a conversation and said that because of her age, Willoughby was too old to perform her job and should “accordingly file for unemployment compensation benefits.”

It was at this point that the supervisor, after being told the plaintiff was actually in her 60s and not her 50s, suggested that Willoughby was too old for her job and should find work at a nursing home, the complaint alleges.

The lawsuit says that the male supervisor screamed in such a loud voice during the telephone conversation with the plaintiff that the woman’s husband was able to hear the discriminatory remarks on the other end of the phone.

Willoughby was terminated subsequent to the phone conversation.

The lawsuit accuses the defendant of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

The plaintiff seeks front and back pay, damages for emotional distress, compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ and expert witness fees and interest.

Willoughby is being represented by Philadelphia lawyer Faye Riva Cohen.

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-03413-LDD.

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