Federal judge dismisses part of discriminatory suit against Bucks County Community College

By Jim Boyle | May 27, 2014

A Bensalem woman has less than a month to refile a claim that details how her employers

at Bucks County Community College allegedly discriminated against her based on her age and race.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Rice ruled that Joan Dunn, a 70-year-old black woman, made a plausible case that she endured a hostile work environment; however, she has not yet shown a pattern of discrimination or that her termination was linked to discriminatory actions.

According to the opinion published on May 22, Dunn has not provided enough information on discriminatory acts that occurred within 300 days prior to her filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as required by the statute.

Dunn's termination in 2012 sparked the claim, but other incidents described in the original complaint do not provide dates and times.

The complaint says that Dunn's manager referred to her as “ghetto,” telling Dunn she knows what it’s like for “people in the hood,” and saying to the woman that “black people get too offended.”

Linda Fossler, the supervisor, would also make remarks about Dunn’s age, the lawsuit claims, including telling Dunn that she was “no good” because of her age, and asking the plaintiff when she was planning to retire.

“Plaintiff was also talked to abruptly, treated in a generally demeaning and condescending manner, and treated in a disparate manner with respect to other terms and conditions as compared to her younger, non-black co-workers,” the complaint states.

Dunn seeks to have the college prohibited from continuing to maintain its illegal policy, practice or custom of discriminating against employees on the bases of age or race.

She also seeks unspecified compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and costs.

This is one of several discrimination suits the Newtown-based college is facing. In March, former custodian Felice Immordino alleged gender discrimination by male coworkers in a federal suit.

The plaintiff claims her coworkers would regularly treat her in a “rude and condescending manner, speak to her abruptly, verbally attack her, question her mental health condition, ignore her efforts to file grievances (which was part of her shop steward duties), selectively enforce policies against her, and deny her overtime.”

A third case invokes the Americans with Disabilities Act, stating that the college fired a human resources administrator because she developed visual impairments and a learning disability.

Kim E. Dixon, of Bensalem, Pa., claims in her civil action that management had reviewed her personnel file toward the end of her employment, prompting Dixon to have discussions with her supervisors about her specific health conditions.

“Shortly before Plaintiff was informed that her position was being ‘eliminated,’ Plaintiff had made specific complaints to her management about her view that they were treating her in a discriminatory manner based upon their perceptions of her health problems,” the complaint reads.

Dixon was told that her termination was “solely” due to restructuring at the workplace, but the plaintiff contends her firing was pretextual and actually due to her complaints of discriminatory treatment.

All three claims have been filed by Bensalem attorney Ari R. Karpf of of the firm Karpf, Karpf & Cerutti.

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