Fired nursing administrator sues former employer for wrongful termination

By Jon Campisi | Apr 6, 2012

A former nursing administrator who oversaw a psychiatric unit at a Bucks County, Pa. hospital is suing her former employer in federal court, contending the company discriminatorily terminated her employment because of her health conditions.

In her lawsuit, which was filed March 30 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Bensalem, Pa. attorney Ari Karpf, Langhorne, Pa. resident Cathy Dennis alleges she was fired earlier this month from her job at a local medical facility on the very day that she returned from federally approved medical leave.

The defendants in the suit, Texas-based Horizon Health Corp., Philadelphia-based Aria Health System, and Langhorne-based Aria Health Bucks County Foundation, are accused of violating the Family and Medical Leave Act for firing Dennis after she was forced to take a leave of absence due to complications from her heart and gastro intestinal problems.

According to the complaint, Dennis, who had worked for the defendants on multiple occasions, the most recent being for a two-and-a-half-year period, had a history of heart problems dating back to a heart attack she suffered in the spring of 2009.

The heart condition caused Dennis to have to receive ongoing medical oversight and treatment. The gastro intestinal problems developed about the same time as the heart problems.

During the first week of January of this year, the lawsuit states, Dennis provided her supervisors with documentation for a medical leave of absence relating to her ongoing bouts of depression and anxiety, which were related to her physical medical conditions.

Dennis commenced a leave of absence in early March. She was fired upon her return mere days later.

The lawsuit claims that Dennis was unlawfully terminated. Her employer told Dennis she was being terminated for unspecified performance concerns due to organizational restructuring, which was a surprise to Dennis, the suit states, since she had previously had nothing but good job performance reviews.

Prior to her leave of absence, the suit states, Dennis had been “verbally commended on her accolades and performance,” been given a good performance evaluation, and was advised that she “played an important role and performed well” on the job.

Furthermore, the company had determined that Dennis met all threshold requirements to be eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act before approving her leave from January through March of this year.

The lawsuit contains counts of interference and retaliation.

Dennis seeks to have the defendants barred from continuing their illegal practice of discriminating and retaliating against employees.

She also seeks to be compensated for lost and future earnings and benefits, and she demands to be awarded punitive and liquidated damages, attorney’s fees and other litigation compensation.

Dennis seeks a trial by jury.


The federal case number is 2:12-cv-01582. 

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