Veteran SEPTA employee sues transit agency over harassment and retaliation

By Jon Campisi | Sep 17, 2013

A Delaware woman whose career with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has spanned more than two decades is suing the agency over claims that she was subjected to retaliatory action after complaining about harassment in the workplace.

Linda Aldridge, who resides in Wilmington, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against SEPTA on Sept. 12 at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania over allegations that she has experienced stress, emotional distress, insomnia, anxiety and fear stemming from her treatment at the hands of two supervisors.

The two men, identified as Albert Matejik and Michael Hickey, both of whom are named as additional defendants in the case, created a hostile work environment for Aldridge soon after they became her direct supervisors in the winter of 2011, the lawsuit states.

Soon after becoming the plaintiff’s boss, the suit states, Matejik instructed Aldridge to pay an employee additional time for hours that person supposedly worked, although the plaintiff maintains that that individual never worked those extra hours.

In addition to that incident, Matejik and Hickey would often yell, curse and use other inappropriate language in the plaintiff’s presence, the complaint alleges, and the men subjected Aldridge, who is black, to sexual harassment and race discrimination.

The mass transit agency, the suit says, failed to take remedial actions to stop the harassment.

Beginning in January of this year, the defendants started retaliating against Aldridge for her complaints of harassment and discrimination, according to the complaint.

Matejik targeted Aldridge in comments, jokes, slurs, gestures and daily bullying, the suit maintains, while Hickey has taken about 25 percent of the plaintiff’s work and has interfered with the woman in performing her daily tasks.

The record shows that Aldridge was first hired by SEPTA in late 1988 as a revenue clerk; she was promoted to the position of Senior Carhouse Payroll Clerk 10 years later.

Aldridge, who is the only black female employee in her office, was detrimentally affected by the actions of the two supervisors, who also would engage in “constant outburst and hostility” toward the plaintiff, the complaint alleges.

According to the lawsuit, this was not the plaintiff’s first brush with harassment at SEPTA.

Back in 2008, Aldridge’s then-supervisor, Steven Hilbert, the agency’s director of mechanical maintenance, subjected the woman to ongoing sexual harassment, the lawsuit states.

Just like the most recent incidents of harassment, however, SEPTA officials never took any action to address the alleged harassment at the hands of Hilbert.

Hilbert, who is not named as a defendant in the current suit, had told Aldridge back in late 2009 that she was going to be fired from her job based on an allegedly false allegation of falsification and/or misuse of authority funds.

Namely, Hilbert had informed Aldridge she was going to be let go for using a personal day that she apparently did not have to use.

Aldridge was later told that if she agreed to drop her administrative discrimination complaint against the agency, she could have her job back.

Aldridge ended up filing a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in December 2009 based on Hilbert’s alleged actions, but she subsequently dropped the complaint in November 2011 and entered into an agreement with SEPTA whereby she would return to work, the lawsuit states.

In her federal civil action, Aldridge accuses SEPTA of engaging in gender and race discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act.

She seeks $100,000 for lost earnings, interest, mental anguish, emotional distress, humiliation and damages to reputation.

Aldridge is being represented by Philadelphia attorney Olugbenga O. Abiona.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-05324-TJS. 

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