A former leasing agent for a suburban Philadelphia apartment complex is suing her
former employer in federal court over allegations that the defendant violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act when it fired the plaintiff from her position two years ago.
Karina Koniz, of Washington Crossing, Bucks County, filed suit at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia Oct. 31 against Warminster, Pa.-based Solomon Organization LLC, a real estate property management firm that controls about 10,000 apartment units in New York, New Jersey Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
The plaintiff was hired by the company in August 2008 to work as a leasing agent at Bucks Landing, an apartment complex in Warminster, Bucks County.
Prior to being hired, Koniz was informed that the company would be conducting a background check on her, the suit states.
Additional background checks were completed about a year later, at which time the plaintiff informed her supervisors of some prior misdemeanor offenses.
There seemed to be no problem, however, and the plaintiff’s employment continued.
In 2010, Koniz informed her bosses that she had become pregnant, a revelation that was initially met with congratulations, the complaint states.
Soon after the plaintiff made the announcement, however, she received a letter from the company stating that there was “negative information” on her criminal background report, although Koniz was never told exactly what the information consisted of.
Koniz was fired about a week after receiving the letter.
“Defendant’s explanation for terminating Plaintiff’s employment was phony,” the complaint states.
The suit says that other employees who had prior criminal offenses were never fired, such as maintenance employees and a property manager who had gotten a DUI and was incarcerated during her employment.
Koniz contends that she was actually fired because of her pregnancy, which violates federal discrimination laws.
“The true reason for her discharge was her pregnancy,” the suit states.
Prior to her firing, one of the plaintiff’s supervisors told other leasing agents, but not Koniz, about special promotions, which put Koniz at a competitive disadvantage, the lawsuit states.
Acts like these were allegedly undertaken in an effort to frustrate Koniz so she would quit her job, which she never did.
“Ultimately Defendant invoked the criminal background report as the pretext upon which to fire Plaintiff,” the complaint states.
Koniz gave birth about six months after she was terminated from her job.
The lawsuit accuses the defendant of violating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“In terminating Plaintiff’s employment because of her pregnancy, Defendant engaged in discriminatory practices with malice and reckless indifference to Plaintiff’s federally-protected rights to be free from employment discrimination based on sex,” the suit states.
Koniz has suffered pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and other non-pecuniary losses, the suit claims.
Koniz also accuses the defendant of violating the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
She seeks declaratory judgment that the defendant is forbidden from continuing to employ discriminatory practices.
Koniz also seeks to be compensated for back and front pay, interest, salary, pay increases, bonuses, insurance, benefits, as well as actual damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other equitable relief.
Koniz is being represented by Trevose, Pa. lawyer Marc E. Weinstein.
The federal case number is 2:12-cv-06138-LS.