A woman who relocated from Erie, Pa. to Philadelphia to take a cosmetology teaching job is suing her formerly prospective employer, alleging that she was given assurances she’d get the job before deciding to move, only to later be told she was ineligible to teach at the school.

Philadelphia attorney David M. Koller filed the wrongful discharge employment lawsuit at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Angela Lewis, who landed in Philadelphia with promises of a job, only to be turned down after she relocated herself and her family.

Named as the defendant in the lawsuit is Empire Education Group, Inc., a Pottsville, Pa.-based company that operates beauty schools in 21 states.

According to the complaint, Lewis began discussing an available cosmetology educator position at the defendant’s Springfield, Pa. campus with company representatives in July or August 2010. She attended a job interview on Aug. 23, 2010.

About a month later, Lewis notified the company’s hiring representative of a stint of imprisonment related to a 2000 domestic dispute, something she made a prior company representative aware of by phone during the initial interview.

In early October 2010, Lewis was told the company was interested in hiring her for the teaching position, despite her criminal background, the lawsuit states. Lewis soon made arrangements to move herself and her son to Philadelphia in preparation for her employment, incurring “significant expense in procuring a renter for her home in Erie and in moving expenses related to the relocation,” the suit states, expenses that were incurred “in reasonable reliance upon Defendant’s representatives’ assurances of employment.”

Soon, Lewis was asked for additional information to complete the company’s background check. It was during this time, the lawsuit states, that the company was contacted by Lewis’ parole officer who confirmed that Lewis had been convicted of a felony for using a firearm during a domestic dispute. The same information was conveyed to the company in an email from Lewis in late September, the suit claims.

Furthermore, the parole officer stated in the correspondence that, “In short, we do not feel that Ms. Lewis is in any way a threat to society. She has worked hard to transform her life in a way that is productive,” the complaint states.

Nevertheless, in early October, Lewis was notified by the company’s educator recruitment specialist that she was ineligible for employment because her criminal background check revealed that she had been convicted of voluntary manslaughter and imprisoned for five years.

“Plaintiff had by this point taken irreversible steps to relocate herself and her family to Philadelphia, and has lived in Philadelphia since,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit accuses the defendant of two counts, one for unlawful failure to hire due to improper consideration of prior criminal history, and the second for statutory violation for failure to inform of employment decision in writing.

According to the complaint, Lewis seeks compensatory damages equal to her actual and real damages as detailed in the suit, as well as punitive damages for the defendant’s “willful violation of the act,” as well as attorney’s fees and related court costs.

The plaintiff has demanded a jury trial. The case awaits listing.

The case number is 110600463.

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