A Montgomery County woman who claims she experienced workplace discrimination, first due to her need to take time off to get a double mastectomy, and later because of a death in the family and an illness, is suing her former employer over claims that she was improperly terminated from her job.
Nickelle Moultrie, a black female who was employed by Horsham, Pa.-based Cigna Home Delivery Pharmacy as a specialty technician, was fired on Sept. 4, 2013, nearly three years after she began her employment, over what she claims were discriminatory and retaliatory reasons.
Moultrie’s problems began back in late September 2012, when she informed her supervisor, Marina Rayz, a co-defendant in the litigation, that she needed to take time off for doctors’ appointments and testing prior to undergoing a double mastectomy, according to her complaint, which was filed on Feb. 11 at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
On. Nov. 5 of that year, after requesting leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to take time off to see her doctor, Moultrie was immediately placed on attendance probation by Rayz, the lawsuit states.
The complaint alleges that a non-black employee, who had requested to take time off under the FMLA, received no corrective action.
Rayz, the lawsuit states, “exhibited an immediate retaliatory and racial animus” toward the plaintiff, alleging that Moultrie had no approved FMLA, and that in the event the plaintiff did get approved for FMLA leave, the probation would be removed.
Rayz, the suit says, finally counted Moultrie’s leave on Nov. 14, 2012, an FMLA leave but only while approval was pending, this despite the fact that the plaintiff stated she had to get to her doctor.
The complaint goes on to allege that Rayz approached Moultrie at her desk in late December of that year and embarrassed the plaintiff by asking if the short-term disability for her mastectomy had been approved.
Moultrie eventually had the surgery on Dec. 21, and returned to work in early March the following year, the record shows.
Following surgery, Moultrie still needed to visit her doctor for follow-ups, which required her to again use FMLA leave once again.
In May, the complaint states, the plaintiff was placed on a final conduct warning for allegedly using an incorrect phone number for the FMLA request.
The warning, the company told her, would not allow Moultrie to receive any merit pay increases, tuition reimbursement or acceptance for any other position with Cigna, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff claims that in late May, she complained to Angela Smith, another co-defendant in the suit, about her perceived racial discrimination and generalized discriminatory treatment, but instead of taking action on the complaint, Smith, whose job title is not spelled out in the complaint, decided to uphold the final written conduct warning by Rayz supposedly because of Moultrie’s failure to follow the documented callout procedure.
“This justification, however, was entirely and completely bogus,” the complaint reads.
Moultrie was further informed that co-defendant Andrew Malsam, a manager with the defendant, would uphold the disciplinary decision.
The complaint also says that the company treated her unfairly following the death of a relative.
The defendant, the suit says, would not accept a funeral services program as proof of Moultrie’s need to take a day off of work in early July of last year.
“Plaintiff was once again deliberately and willfully singled out by virtue of her race because of [sic] other non-African-Americans, were never required to produce significant evidence that they had attended a funeral for family members,” the lawsuit states.
On Sept. 2 of last year, Moultrie was sick and called work to say she would need a few FMLA hours in order to heal.
She remained sick the following day and needed to take off, according to the suit.
Moultrie was fired on Sept. 4, the day she returned to her job.
The defendant is accused of violating both the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Civil Rights Act.
Moultrie seeks injunctive relief permanently prohibiting the defendant from discriminating against employees on the basis of race.
She also seeks unspecified compensatory damages, back pay, front pay, benefits, punitive damages and court costs.
She is being represented by Penndel, Pa. attorney Timothy M. Kolman.
The federal case number is 2:14-cv-00868-ER.