Former assisted living employee says younger manager terminated employment based on age

By Jim Boyle | Jul 2, 2014

A contentious relationship with a much-younger supervisor at an assisted living facility in

Devon, Pa., ultimately resulted in an older employee's termination, an action she says was prompted by age discrimination, according to a federal claim filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Grace Kelly, of West Chester, Pa., had worked for New Seasons Assisted Living as a manager at the Devon location for approximately two years, with no reported problems with her job performance. According to the claim, Kelly's regular duties included maintaining a waiting list of potential residents, making sure that rooms were prepared for new residents and that new resident move-ins went smoothly. More responsibilities were given to Kelly, including making sales calls and working to increase census.

In July 2008, Five Star Quality Care took over operations of New Seasons and placed a much younger woman, named Kelly Neils, as district manager. Immediately, the suit says, Neils began directing age-related derogatory comments at Kelly, who was born in 1942. For example, when discussing new marketing ideas, Neils allegedly said, "You don't understand the work we need you to do." She also criticized Kelly's style of dress and told her to wear something newer, according to the complaint.

A few months after the new staffing change, Kelly was directed by her supervisor to organize a community outreach event to attract new residents. However, the complaint says, Kelly was never given the support staff needed to make the day a success.

In October 2008, a job performance review returned an unsatisfactory rating to Kelly, who had never before received such a grade. Kelly also found that she had been given harsher duties and expectations than the other employees, including a requirement to complete 20 cold sales calls a day. If she did not meet the quota, the suit says, Kelly was criticized and screamed at by Neils.

Finally, in November 2008, Kelly was called into the office and terminated, with Neils assuming her duties. The firing has been categorized by the plaintiff as a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and has filed against Five Star Quality Care for an undisclosed amount in compensatory and punitive damages.

Kelly is represented by Philadelphia-based attorneys Gerald Williams and Steven Pennington.

The federal case ID number is 2:14-cv04020-EL.

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