A black worker for a Philadelphia healthcare agency is suing his former
employer over claims that he was terminated from his management-level position because of his race.
Jean Luma, who lives in Woodbury, N.J., filed suit in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia Jan. 29 against AmeriHealth Caritas, a company that bills itself as a national leader in providing Medicaid managed care and other healthcare solutions with locations in 13 states across the country.
The plaintiff, who was first hired by the defendant as a senior recruiter in July 2012, was promoted to the position of manager of corporate talent acquisition about three months after he was brought on board, according to the civil action.
During the balance of 2012, Luma was supervised by an African American vice president, but that changed in early 2013 when a white woman identified in the complaint as Ellyn Cominetto became the vice president of human resources–client services for the defendant.
Beginning in April of last year, the suit says, Luma began feeling discriminated against in various ways, such as being selectively given more travel assignments than other non-black employees, having his work reassigned in various ways unlike non-black members of the management team, having subordinate employees removed from his supervision unlike fellow white managers, and being treated less like a management employee than other non-black management employees in a similar capacity.
Last spring, the plaintiff requested a meeting with Elizabeth Reeves, the senior vice president of AmeriHealth to discuss the feelings of disparate treatment, the lawsuit states.
His concerns, the suit says, had been known to Luma’s immediate management, including Cominetto, who is not named as a defendant in the litigation, but who is identified by name.
In early October of last year, about two months after a white man was transitioned to become Luma’s immediate supervisor, the plaintiff was told his job was being eliminated, the suit states.
The complaint says that during the plaintiff’s final six months of employment, prior to notification that his job was being eliminated, “there had been no meaningful resolution to Plaintiff’s concerns of discrimination; and in fact, he had been ostracized to a large extent, deprived of typical meetings with his management, not included in many aspects of management discussions, and he was gradually given less responsibilities.”
On Oct. 4, 2013, Luma was told his job would be eliminated effective Dec. 31 of that year.
Throughout that October and November, the complaint states, Luma spoke with management about the possibility of transferring and/or being hired for any other possible positions at the same or similar management level, but he was told no such positions were available within the company.
Before his termination, the suit says, Luma was promoted, performed his job very well, and had never received discipline for any performance concerns of deficiencies.
The complaint further notes that Luma’s job was not actually eliminated, but was instead offered as a promotion to a then-senior recruiter, a lesser experienced white employee who “would have been eliminated before Plaintiff had neutral criteria been applied in selecting Plaintiff for termination.”
The lawsuit accuses the defendant of violating the Civil Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
It contains counts of racial discrimination and retaliation.
The plaintiff seeks injunctive relief prohibiting the defendant from continuing its illegal policies, unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, costs and counsel fees.
Luma is being represented by Bensalem, Pa. employment attorney Ari R. Karpf of the firm Karpf, Karpf & Cerutti.
The federal case number is 2:14-cv-00656-CMR.