Jon Campisi Feb. 18, 2014, 7:13am


The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is named as a defendant in a civil suit filed by a former medical assistant who claims she was not rehired by the defendant as part of its acquisition of Community Medicine Inc. strictly because of her disabilities.

Angela Koller, who resides in New Castle, Pa., claims in her civil action, which was filed on Feb. 12 at the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, that she was discriminated against due to her disabilities, which include rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.

Koller had been hired by Community Medicine Inc., which is affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, in 2010 as a medical assistant.

Shortly after she was hired, Koller filed for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act due to her disabilities, which affect activities such as sitting, working, sleeping and bathing.

At that time, CMI learned of the plaintiff’s disabilities and her need to be specially accommodated, the complaint states.

The plaintiff, meanwhile, maintains that she was fully qualified for the position of medical assistant and that she could perform the essential duties of her position without need of other accommodations.

In December 2012, employees such as Koller were informed by CMI that a location called the Hermitage facility was being acquired by the defendant, and that the workers would be terminated effective April 1, 2013, unless they were able to find a position in the employ of the defendant, the lawsuit states.

The following month, Koller applied for a medical assistant position at the Hermitage facility, and as part of that application process, she once again had to inform the defendant of her disabilities.

During the following few months, the other medical assistants who worked at the Hermitage facility were hired by the defendant in the same position and capacity that they held with CMI, the record shows.

Koller was offered a clerical surgical position with the defendant in the spring of 2013, but she ended up having to turn down the job because it would have required her to spend a great deal of time sitting, something that is difficult due to her disabilities, the lawsuit states.

The defendant, the suit alleges, was aware that Koller would not be capable of performing the duties of the clerical surgical position at the time it was offered.

Koller formally rejected the position in late March 2013, and also submitted at that time a formal request for accommodation once again, the record shows.

She was officially discharged from her employment on April 1, 2013, and was not rehired by the defendant, which ended up giving the medical assistant position that Koller previously held to an individual with qualifications equal to or lesser than the plaintiff.

The complaint says that the defendant violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it discriminated against Koller by not hiring her as part of its acquisition of CMI.

As a result of the defendant’s actions, Koller suffered lost wages, loss of pension benefits, loss of insurance and other fringe benefits, loss of the opportunity to be gainfully employed, loss of future earnings, and loss of “time and money in endeavoring to protect herself from Defendant’s unlawful discrimination, including the costs and reasonable attorney’s fees of this action.”

Koller seeks back pay, job reinstatement, lost benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as costs and attorney’s fees.

The lawsuit was filed by Butler, Pa. attorneys Neal A. Sanders and Dirk D. Beuth.

 

The federal case number is 2:14-cv-00201-AJS.

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