Suit: Former nursing home cook suffered threats, slashed tires by male co-workers

By Jim Boyle | Aug 26, 2014

A Berks County woman claims in a federal suit filed at the U.S. District Court for the

Eastern District of Pennsylvania that she endured months of discriminatory behavior from her male supervisors and co-workers, including personal threats and vandalism to her car, before her unjustified termination as a cook at a nursing home.

Lisa Abraham, of Fleetwood, Pa., seeks damages from her former employer, Berks Leisure Living, saying that the company did nothing to repair a hostile environment that discriminated against her because of her gender and disabilities.

According to the complaint, Abraham began working for Berks Leisure Living in October 2010 as a cook and dietary manager, giving her employers full awareness of her medical condition, specifically the fact that she suffered from fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. The claim says that the conditions are covered under the Americans with Disability Act and impaired her ability to lift, climb and run.

The claim says that Abraham’s tenure began going downhill in the spring of 2012, when another cook began using derogatory language when referring to the plaintiff and women in general, including allegedly saying that, “women are idiots.”

When she complained to the owner about the comments, the suit says that no corrective action was taken. In July 2012, Abraham learned from another employee that the cook had threatened to cut her throat. When she informed the owner again about the comments, he allegedly told her, “If you make problems, you’re going to have problems.”

Not long after, Abraham’s tires were slashed while she was working. She started parking in a back parking lot, but she was informed that employees were not permitted to park in the back. The suit says that despite the warning, other male employees frequently used the same parking lot.

Abraham began to notice other preferential treatment afforded the male members of the staff, the suit says. For example, they were permitted to dress casually and use the office printer for work related items, while the female employees were forced to use home printers.

In September, her supervisor began to make unreasonable requests of Abraham, such as lifting 50 pound items, an action covered by the ADA. When Abraham informed her supervisor that the request was impossible due to her disabilities, she was demoted to cook. Approximately one week later, he asked her again to lift 50 pounds, and again Abraham denied the request due to her impairments. This time, she was suspended from work for one day.

Finally, in November 2012, Abraham learned that a male, less-experienced cook earned a higher hourly wage than her, and that another male employee had received a promotion for which she was more suited, the complaint says. In December 2012, Abraham had been terminated from Berks Leisure Living.

The plaintiff is represented by Sidney Gold, of Sidney Gold & Assoc., P.C.

The federal case ID is 5:14-cv-04937-LS.

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