Thrice terminated PGW worker sues utility for discriminatory firing

By Jon Campisi | Jan 4, 2012

A former Philadelphia Gas Works employee who had twice been fired from his job with the utility, and subsequently twice reinstated, is suing the agency in federal court, alleging that his third and final termination this past summer was discriminatory in nature.

Feasterville, Pa. attorney Bruce Preissman and Warminster, Pa. attorney Richard J. Abramson filed the civil action against PGW on Dec. 29 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Mark S. Silver of Philadelphia.

The lawsuit alleges that Silver’s firing on Aug. 4, while allegedly related to PGW’s claim of “sick fraud and refusal to work,” was actually a pretext for “unlawful discrimination and unlawful retaliation.”

Silver, who began working for PGW as a customer service representative in February 2001, applied for and received intermittent federal medical leave in 2003 relating to panic and anxiety, what the suit terms a “serious health condition/disability.”

Silver would recertify for the leave when requested, the suit claims. Nevertheless, Silver was discharged in October 2008 for what PGW claimed was a violation of its absence policy.

The lawsuit claims that Silver’s absence was due to his medical condition.

Silver grieved the termination through his union and was reinstated, with back pay, in February 2009, according to the complaint.

In April of that year, Silver was once again terminated, this time for failing to provide a urine sample.

Silver was then reinstated about two weeks later after his doctor provided a note indicating that Silver’s inability to provide the requested urine sample was related to his disability, the suit claims.

In the spring of 2010, Silver was given a new position, that of general clerk of materials management. That summer, Silver complained about improper calculation of wages due him, the suit claims.

This March, Silver requested and received intermittent leave to care for his father, who was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, the suit states. It was around this same time that Silver filed a grievance concerning PGW’s failure to properly assign work and calculate Silver’s wages.

Then, during this past summer, Silver complained to human resources about discrimination and a hostile work environment, according to the complaint.

In July, following his complaints, Silver was suspended without pay for two weeks. The suspension was supposedly related to Silver’s failing to call out of work prior to his start time, the lawsuit states. The call-out was related to a medical emergency involving Silver’s father.

After Silver returned to work on Aug. 1, he visited the company nurse, who instructed Silver to leave and make an appointment with his personal physician, the suit states.

Three days later, Silver was discharged.

Through his lawsuit, Silver alleges violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Silver seeks job reinstatement, back pay, compensatory and liquidated damages and attorney’s fees.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-07898-LDD.

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