Montco woman sues Louisiana restaurant over religious discrimination

By Jon Campisi | Dec 2, 2013

A Jehovah’s Witness from southeastern Pennsylvania is suing a Louisiana-

based restaurant over allegations that the company discriminated against her because of her religion.

Jonna Matthews, who currently resides in Pottstown, Montgomery County, filed suit at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on Nov. 26 against America’s Pizza Co. over the allegedly discriminatory treatment she received at the hands of the defendant while she was employed as a customer service representative beginning in early February 2011.

At the start of her employment, Matthews informed the defendant that she could not work on Thursdays and Sundays due to her religious beliefs, the record shows.

In June 2011, after a woman identified as Aretha Foster became the plaintiff’s store manager, Matthews had her hours reduced to 15 a week from 35, the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff, however, maintains that she never asked for the reduction in hours and was still available to work Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The complaint alleges that Foster also subjected the plaintiff to an increasingly hostile work environment, that the supervisor would deny Matthews her breaks, and that the woman would verbally abuse the plaintiff in front of other staff members.

“When Plaintiff questioned Ms. Foster as to why she was treating her in this harassing, discriminatory, and disrespectful manner, Ms. Foster refused to give a reason,” the lawsuit states.

The suit goes on to say that on Oct. 24, 2011, two weeks after Matthews filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the defendant, a shift leader for the restaurant informed Matthews that she was not to return to work until she received a phone call from the corporate offices stating she could go back to her job.

Matthews, however, maintains that she never received such a phone call.

The defendant went on to allege that Matthews was being let go because she violated the company’s attendance policy, according to the complaint.

The defendant stands accused of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination on the basis of religion.

“Plaintiff suffered adverse job actions, including, but not limited to, disciplines, denials of various opportunities, and termination,” the suit states.

The suit contains additional counts of retaliation and hostile work environment.

Matthews seeks damages for past and future monetary losses as a result of the defendant’s unlawful discrimination.

She also seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, liquidated damages, attorney’s fees, recoverable costs, interest, and damages for emotional pain and suffering.

The suit also seeks an injunction barring the defendant from engaging in, ratifying or refusing to correct employment practices that discriminate in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Matthews is being represented by Philadelphia attorney Erin W. Grewe of Koller Law PC.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-06905-TJS.

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