Thomas Jefferson University Hospital named in retaliatory discharge complaint

By The Penn Record | Feb 21, 2013

A former employee of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital has filed a federal complaint

A former employee of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital has filed a federal complaint

Richard Swartz

against the healthcare institution over claims that she was fired from her job as a bone marrow stem cell laboratory technologist in retaliation for speaking out about incidents of sexual harassment.

The plaintiff claims in her civil action, which was filed at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on Feb. 18, that that she was fired from her job on May 21, 2010, because she complained about the “highly offensive and perverse sexually harassing conduct” exhibited by Patricia Farley, who had been the plaintiff’s direct supervisor.

The lawsuit claims that a month after plaintiff’s January 2006 hiring, Farley began engaging in sexually harassing behavior toward the plaintiff, which included making comments and physically touching the plaintiff.

“Plaintiff repeatedly plead with Farley to cease her sexual harassing conduct; nonetheless, Farley ignored Plaintiff’s pleas,” the complaint states.

The suit contends that Farley “constantly and explicitly” spoke to the plaintiff about her sex life including the people with whom she had sex with, how she met them, and the graphic details of the encounters.

Farley also allegedly regularly rubbed up against the plaintiff and, on one occasion, kissed the plaintiff without warning.

In the summer of 2009, the suit says, the plaintiff sought counseling from the hospital’s Employee Assistant Program regarding the harassment, and she also consulted the defendant’s director of volunteer services, Jasmine Arfaa, about how to handle the issue.

In January 2010, the complaint states, Arfaa informed the plaintiff that the defendant’s vice president had been made aware of the plaintiff’s complaints regarding Farley, and in response assured the plaintiff that Farley’s alleged conduct would not be tolerated and that the company would ensure that Farley’s actions would cease.

Nevertheless, Farley’s actions continued, the lawsuit claims, and the plaintiff contends that the defendant never did end up conducting an investigation into her complaints of sexual harassment.

The plaintiff even ended up meeting with Farley in person about the harassment, but the supervisor’s behavior allegedly continued.

Shortly after the meeting, the plaintiff was written up for an infraction that allegedly occurred more than seven months prior.

The plaintiff contends that the disciplinary action was actually retaliatory in nature.

Still, Farley suspended the plaintiff for three days without pay in mid March 2010 as a result of the alleged workplace error that led to the write-up.

In May of that year, Farley told the plaintiff that she was being fired, although no reason was given as to the decision, according to the complaint.

“In fact, Plaintiff was fired because of her complaints regarding Farley’s highly offensive and perverse sexually harassing conduct,” the suit reads.

The complaint accuses the defendant of violating the plaintiff's civil rights.

It contains counts of sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation.

The plaintiff seeks to have a judge prohibit the hospital from continuing its illegal policy of permitting its employees to be subjected to sexual harassment and retaliating against them for speaking out on the issue.

The plaintiff also seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, along with costs and attorneys’ fees.

Sheinman is being represented by attorneys Richard S. Swartz, Justin L. Swidler and Matthew D. Miller, of the Cherry Hill, N.J. firm Swartz Swidler.

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-00867-JS.

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