Fisher Clinical Services hit with federal employment discrimination lawsuit

By Jon Campisi | Aug 2, 2011

A woman who alleges she was fired from her job for age-related reasons and replaced by a younger worker, despite her stellar work background, has filed a federal employment discrimination lawsuit against her former employer.

Attorney Andrew S. Abramson, of the Blue Bell, Pa.-based Abramson Employment Law, LLC, filed the complaint July 29 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Lumberton, N.J. resident Michelle Richter.

The defendant named in the suit is Bristol, Pa.-based Fisher Clinical Services.

According to the federal complaint, Richter was first hired as a senior project manager by Acculogix in July 2007. That company was acquired by Fisher in January 2009. Fisher is part of ThermoFisher Scientific, a worldwide company with more than 30,000 employees.

The lawsuit claims that soon after Fisher’s takeover of Acculogix, the company “began a pattern and practice of treating older workers differently than younger workers in an attempt to force older workers to leave FCS.”

Four such “older” employees left the company after the transition, the suit alleges.

In Richter’s case, she came under the supervision of a 32-year-old manager who she claims began to treat her differently than younger employees, with Richter facing a negative mid-year review in September 2009, and being advised that she was being placed on a performance improvement plan in November of that year.

All the while, Richter’s customers continued to praise the plaintiff’s job capabilities, the suit states.

In late November 2009, Richter made a formal complaint to her immediate supervisor and the company’s human resources department, making it clear that the “criticism of her performance was unwarranted, she was being singled out and discriminated against as an older female employee and that younger employees and males were being treated differently,” the lawsuit states.

Despite her formal complaint, the plaintiff continued to be discriminated against, and even retaliated against for lodging the complaint, the suit claims.

“As [Fisher’s] retaliatory actions continued Plaintiff Richter experienced severe stress and anxiety which grew worse over time and necessitated treatment by medical professionals,” the lawsuit states.

In early May 2010, on the advice of doctors, Richter took a leave of absence. In July of that year, she filed a complaint against the company with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that her employer was engaging in unlawful discrimination and retaliation against her based upon her age and gender, the lawsuit states.

The company was made aware of the EEOC charge in September 2010, and subsequently fired Richter in January 2011. The termination was allegedly tied to Richter’s poor performance and her failing to meet the terms of the earlier performance improvement plan that had been devised.

Through her lawsuit, Richter claims that the firing was actually retaliation for her reporting discrimination and for taking a medical leave of absence.

Richter’s lawsuit contains counts of age and sex discrimination, as well as violations of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

For each of the counts listed, Richter seeks judgment against the defendant in a sum exceeding $150,000, in the form of compensation and monetary losses, pre-judgment interest, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other costs.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-04841-CDJ.

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