A Northeast Philadelphia business specializing in customized lighting
fixtures and ceiling fans is facing a civil complaint by a fired employee who alleges she was terminated in violation of federal law.
Susan Moritz, who is a city resident, filed a federal complaint Dec. 2 at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Westinghouse Lighting Corp. in which she accuses the defendant of violating the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The plaintiff, who began her employment with the defendant in early 2000, claims that in October 2009, after having been out on disability since August of that year due to an unspecified medical condition, she returned to find that her department had been “reorganized,” according to the lawsuit.
Instead of being allowed to return to her prior job, the substance of which is not spelled out in the complaint, Moritz was instead “relegated” to the call center to answer the phones, the suit says.
She was later transferred to the department that handles returned merchandise.
The woman alleges that after her return to work, her medical condition continued to be an issue for the company, and eventually led to her firing.
In November 2010, Moritz filed an administrative complaint of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the record shows.
She was 51 years old at the time.
Soon after she returned from medical leave, the plaintiff was required to train a 25-year-old African American hire who eventually took over Moritz’s position, the lawsuit states.
In late June 2010, the plaintiff received a company warning placing her on a 90-day probation because she had accumulated seven unscheduled absences since September 2009, the record shows.
Moritz claims in her civil action that younger, African American employees also accumulated unscheduled absences, but that they received a different fate than that of the plaintiff.
“The warning came as a complete surprise to Plaintiff,” the complaint reads.
Moritz, who claims her absences were due to the “usual illnesses that afflict all employees during the winter months,” maintains that she had no unscheduled absences during the probationary period.
About two weeks after the probationary period ended, Moritz says she came down with a bad cold, although she continued to report to work.
Eventually, she had to stop going to work because of her continuous coughing and “hacking,” the lawsuit states.
Moritz reached out to her supervisor in an attempt to discuss her medical condition, but she says she never heard back until she was informed she was being terminated from her job in the fall of 2010.
Meanwhile, Moritz had learned that she had been suffering from severe bronchitis.
The lawsuit claims the defendant committed age discrimination when it replaced the plaintiff with a significantly younger individual.
It also contains a count of reverse race discrimination.
The defendant is also accused of violating the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
Moritz seeks to have the defendant permanently enjoined from engaging in discrimination against its employees.
The plaintiff also seeks unspecified compensatory, actual, and punitive damages, along with costs, legal fees and other injunctive relief.
Moritz is being represented by Bucks County attorneys Wayne A. Ely and W. Charles Sipio.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-06984-LS.