Nicholas Malfitano Apr. 24, 2015, 8:53am


HARRISBURG – A Carlisle woman’s lawsuit alleging health-based discrimination and retaliation against her former employer has been removed from state court to federal court.

Angela Camplese first initiated legal action against Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Harrisburg in the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas, alleging violations of Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1991, an alleged “hostile work environment” and alleged violations of the American With Disabilities Act of 1990 – specifically, the anti-retaliation provisions of those Acts.

The case was removed Friday to U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

The plaintiff was hired as a broker by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in 1990, where her duties entailed the handling of several large accounts for the firm, including financial investments for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg.

These accounts were maintained both by the plaintiff and in concert with her brother and fellow employee, Joseph Camplese, and comprised “the largest financial relationship at the branch,” according to the lawsuit.

In her role as a broker, the plaintiff reported to Harrisburg Branch Manager and firm Vice-President, Douglas Berlin.

In June 2006, the plaintiff took a four month-long leave of absence from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, for treatment of a stress-related mental health disorder. Though cleared to return to work part-time the following October, the suit claims the plaintiff’s health was still impaired, requiring other absences.

The plaintiff also sought medical leave in June 2008 for treatment of a broken thumb, which the plaintiff claims required two surgeries and physical therapy.

The plaintiff alleges Berlin made several “repeated and inappropriate” remarks both to her brother and in front of other employees about her work-related absences over a two-year period, including inquiries of “Where’s your sister?” to Joseph Camplese.

Meanwhile, the plaintiff alleges she and Joseph Camplese contacted Berlin and Vice-President and Regional Complex Manager Chris Maillie regarding the status of the Diocese of Harrisburg’s investment accounts.

The plaintiff claims Berlin “accepted trading advice from an unlicensed person and failed to act as a fiduciary,” thereby increasing losses for the Diocese of Harrisburg and resulting in loss of their Bond Account from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in May 2008.

Seeking to secure the remaining Diocesan accounts under their management, the plaintiff and her brother wanted to convene a meeting with new Diocesan Chief Financial Officer, Pat Miorin, in New York to discuss strengthening the relationship with their client. The plaintiff claimed she sent e-mails detailing these plans to both Berlin and Maillie, but that they were allegedly never answered or even acknowledged by those individuals.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was notified on Sept. 3, 2008 that Morgan Stanley Smith Barney had also lost the Diocese of Harrisburg’s Equity Accounts, with the diocese requesting their holdings be liquidated and sent to a rival firm, Select Asset Management & Trust Company.

Select Asset Management is chaired by Rocco Ortenzio, who has founded several charitable organizations designed to assist students, families and Roman Catholic institutions in the Central Pennsylvania region. Ortenzio allegedly pledged a $10 million donation to the Diocese of Harrisburg towards the construction of new high Bishop McDevett Catholic High School, the suit claims.

However, the plaintiff also alleges in her lawsuit the Diocese of Harrisburg’s investment committee was opposed to leaving Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in favor of Select Asset Management.

Nevertheless, the removal and liquidation of the Diocese of Harrisburg’s Equity Accounts caused a $10 million loss. A subsequent meeting with Berlin over those comments allegedly included him commenting that he couldn’t see how Morgan Stanley Smith Barney was going to employ two full-time brokers with the loss of the Diocese of Harrisburg’s Equity Accounts.

The lawsuit claims Berlin fired Joseph Camplese on Nov. 25, 2008, allegedly as a direct result of this account loss.

During that same time period, the plaintiff learned she was part of a class action lawsuit filed by female brokers against Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, for which she received a financial settlement in October 2008.

In her lawsuit, the plaintiff noted the timing of her brother’s firing in relation to when she received financial compensation for the class action litigation she had been named in.

Coming on the heels on the loss of the Diocese of Harrisburg’s accounts and her brother’s firing, the plaintiff alleges the hostile work environment she was subjected to became “even more severe,” according to the lawsuit.

On Jan. 31, 2012, the suit claims the plaintiff telephoned Kris Salimondo, who worked in Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s Human Resources office in New York, and explained the events which transpired with the firm’s loss of the Diocese of Harrisburg’s accounts.

Salimondo allegedly told the plaintiff the company would attempt to find another internal role for which to employ her, but the suit claims nothing connected to that promise was ever finalized.

Finally, the plaintiff stated in her lawsuit that she was fired from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney on Dec. 18, 2012, allegedly in retaliation for the loss of the Diocese of Harrisburg’s accounts, her health-related absences, her reception of a financial settlement from the earlier class action litigation and her phone call to Salimondo.

The plaintiff is seeking the alleged actions of the defendants be declared in violation of both Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, “preliminary and permanent injunctive relief” and restraint of the defendants’ alleged actions, compensatory damages for pain and suffering with interest, punitive damages, plus attorney and court costs.

Though initially filed in the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas, attorneys for the defendants petitioned to have the matter removed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, given the alleged violations of federal laws listed in the plaintiff’s lawsuit.

The plaintiff is represented by Donald P. Russo, Esq. of Easton.

The defendant is represented by Michael J. Ossip of Philadelphia and Sean P. Lynch of Princeton, N.J., both of the firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP.

United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania case 3:15-cv-00784

 

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