University of PA Health System faces wrongful termination lawsuit

By Jon Campisi | Aug 23, 2011

The University of Pennsylvania Health System is facing a federal discrimination lawsuit over allegations that a former 20-year hospital employee was fired because of her medical conditions.

Bensalem, Pa. attorney Ari R. Karpf, of the firm Karpf & Karpf, P.C., filed the lawsuit Aug. 19 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Upper Darby, Pa. resident Freda Willis.

The defendant named in the lawsuit is The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, doing business as the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

According to the complaint, Willis, 56, was employed as a call representative with the defendant for more than two decades at the time of her September 2008 firing.

The lawsuit states that during the last several years of her employment, Willis suffered from a number of medical ailments, including irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.

The health problems led to her taking a medical leave of absence, which didn’t sit well with the plaintiff’s superiors, the suit claims.

“Plaintiff’s management made negative comments about her health, her need for medical leave and admonished Plaintiff for needing to take periodic restroom breaks due to her health problems,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint alleges that Willis was eventually terminated from her job for what she was told were performance problems.

The lawsuit, which alleges retaliatory discharge and wrongful termination, contains counts of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Through her lawsuit, Willis seeks to have the defendant prohibited from continuing its policies of discrimination through court order.

The plaintiff seeks to be compensated for lost and future earnings, pay increases, bonuses, and medical and other benefits. She also demands damages for emotional distress and pain and suffering as well as punitive damages and costs related to the court action.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-05294-JD.

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