Breast cancer patient says termination from charity organization violated ADA

By Jim Boyle | Dec 4, 2014

A Bucks County woman says that her former employer violated section of the Americans

with Disabilities Act when it terminated her job because she needed several weeks off from work to recover from chemotherapy treatments, according to a suit filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Mary Gebler, of Perkasie, Pa., seeks an injunction against Kidspeace National Centers that would prohibit the private charitable organization from allegedly discriminating against employees based on their disabilities. She also demands reimbursement from lost wages and benefits as well as punitive damages.

According to the complaint, Gebler worked at Kidspeace's Doylestown, Pa., location as a family resource specialist between November 2012 and September 2013. The organization provides mental and behavioral therapy for children and families at its locations throughout the United States.

Gebler, 59, developed breast cancer while employed with Kidspeace, a diagnosis that sometimes limited her abilities to perform her regular tasks, but otherwise completed her work obligations with occasional reasonable accommodations, the suit says.

The plaintiff began taking chemotherapy treatments in February 2013 and became ill from the medication in August. Her condition forced Gebler to stay home for a two-to-three week period, frequently performing work from her house, the suit says.

When Gebler visited the office on Sept. 3 to pick up items she needed to continue working from home, her supervisor asked about her health, specifically if the plaintiff had a doctor's note. Gebler replied that she did not have a note, but would get one when she was cleared to physically return to her job.

A few days later, the complaint says, Gebler received a letter from management stating that she had been terminated from her position because she abandoned her position and failed to produce medical documentation for her time off. Gebler believes that the letter was a pretext, and the real reason Kidspeace firedher was because of her medical condition, a violation of the ADA and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Kidspeace did not provide Gebler the reasonable request for time off to recover from her chemotherapy treatments, a reasonable accommodation protected by the ADA, according to the claim.

The plaintiff is represented by Ari Karpf of Karpf, Karpf & Cerutti in Bensalem, Pa.

The federal case ID is 5:14-cv-06816-EGS.

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