FJD, Phila. Common Pleas Court judge sued for wrongful termination

By Jon Campisi | Apr 12, 2013

A former employee of Pennsylvania’s First Judicial District, which is Philadelphia’s court

system, has filed a pro se complaint against the FJD and one of its judges over his questionable firing.

Philadelphia resident Winston J. Banks, who was first hired as a judicial tipstaff back in 2000, alleges in his federal complaint, which was filed at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, that Common Pleas Court Judge Glynnis D. Hill terminated his employment for improper reasons.

In his handwritten complaint, Banks says that Hill created a “hostile work environment” and treated him differently than other employees, including the jurist’s pregnant law clerk.

Banks claims that problems began back in May 2002, when Hill openly announced that “changes were being made,” which was followed three years later by the judge making Banks work about 15 hours a week more than he was supposed to without proper compensation.

The plaintiff claims he then contacted human resources to see about his options for changing positions, which included a potential opportunity with Philadelphia’s Traffic Court.

When Hill learned Banks was looking to move within the court system, the judge became “angry,” the lawsuit alleges, and instructed the plaintiff to perform duties that were “outside the job requirements.”

Banks goes on to state that while Hill first hired him with the understanding that Banks suffers from a disability, the judge later “openly chastised” Banks following a situation in which a handicapped individual in a wheelchair had entered the courtroom.

While the suit is mum on specifics with regard to this encounter, Banks claims that his being singled out by the judge, for whatever reason, caused his back to spasm, and led him to seek medical attention at the local Veteran’s Administration clinic.

Banks claims that Hill told him if he left court to seek out treatment, he would be fired.

“I immediately left and went to the VA for treatment,” Banks wrote in his complaint. “I was not a disciplinary problem and had perfect work attendance.”

The plaintiff alleges that he experienced discrimination on the basis of his race, African American, and gender.

Banks accuses the FJD and Hill of wrongful termination, failure to promote, failure to reasonably accommodate a disability, failure to stop harassment, unequal terms and conditions of employment, and retaliation.

The plaintiff previously filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the spring of 2008 and was issued a Right to Sue letter in January of this year.

He also had filed a charge with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in September of last year, the record shows.

Banks seeks job reinstatement and promotion, as well as appropriate injunctive relief, lost wages, liquidated/double damages, post-judgment interest, costs and attorney fees.

Banks also filed a petition with the federal court to have a lawyer assigned to his case.

The suit was filed on April 10.

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