A man who was fired from his job as a system administrator at an information technology firm in southeastern Pennsylvania has filed a federal complaint against the company, alleging his termination after three years of employment was retaliatory for him taking occasional medical leave to treat his ailments.
In his lawsuit, Philadelphia resident Michael White accuses his former employer, Warrington, Pa.-based Sabre Systems Inc., of firing him because of his health conditions.
The complaint, filed April 10 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Bensalem attorney Ari R. Karpf, alleges that White, who suffers from depression, bi-polar disorder and back problems, was fired in retaliation for filing a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The discrimination charge was filed on May 21, 2010. White was fired from his job three days.
White had filed the EEOC complaint more than a month-and-a-half after he revealed to his supervisors that he suffered from bi-polar disorder, according to the complaint.
Throughout his employment, the suit states, White was occasionally limited in “standing, walking thinking and concentrating,” and he took intermittent leave from work for reasons that qualified under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
Nonetheless, White was still able to perform the basic functions of his job with reasonable accommodations, the suit states.
In late June or early July 2010, White was given his job back, and assured by the company that he would no longer be supervised by Greg Danielewicz, one of the defendants in the lawsuit who is identified as a vice president and “decision maker concerning terms and conditions of employment for employees.”
The suit claims that Danielewicz had previously subjected White to discriminatory treatment because of White’s health conditions.
In addition to Sabre Systems and Danielewicz, the other defendants named in the lawsuit are human resources directors Deborah Kliman and Karen Harp, as well as another company vice president, James O’Donnell.
Soon after he returned to work, the suit states, White submitted paperwork to the company requesting medical leave.
Following this request, White was treated with hostility, the complaint alleges, including being subject to discipline and being sent home from work on one occasion.
Once again, White filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC in mid October 2010 alleging disability discrimination and retaliation because of his health conditions.
In the ensuing months, the lawsuit states, White continued to experience hostile and disparaging treatment on the part of his supervisors, including being told that he was taking medical leave too frequently, and that he was not permitted to take certain days off.
At one point, White was denied training opportunities that were provided to non-disabled employees, the suit claims.
And despite the assurance that White would no longer be supervised by Danielewicz, that defendant continued to oversee White’s day-to-day employment.
In August 2011, the suit states, White was informed that he would be required to undergo an independent medical exam. He was also told by management that he would need to consent to a “very broad, overreaching and vague release for his medical records.”
On Sept. 7, 2011, White filed a third charge of discrimination with the EEOC. He was fired for the second time a day later.
“Plaintiff was terminated for his actual or perceived health conditions, his FMLA-qualifying absences and intermittent leave, his requests for accommodations, and his complaints of discriminatory treatment,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The complaint contains counts of actual and perceived disability discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, and interference and retaliation.
White seeks to have the defendants enjoined from continuing their illegal policy of discriminating against employees.
He also seeks lost and future earnings and benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, liquidated damages, litigation costs and other equitable relief.
A jury trial has been demanded.
The federal case number is 2:12-cv-01830-JHS.