Pennsylvania Record

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ex-custodian wins $83,000 jury award from community college in discrimination suit

By Jim Boyle | Feb 3, 2015

PHILADELPHIA - A federal jury on Jan. 20 awarded a Levittown resident who worked for

11 years as a custodian for Bucks County Community College an $83,000 judgment following a seven-day trial over allegations that her former employer discriminated against her gender.

Felice Immordino, 58, said in the original complaint that during her decade-plus employment with the school she experienced a hostile work environment due to her gender, claiming 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.”

She said that Mark Grisi, the school’s director and a co-defendant in the civil suit, in the spring of 2012 became extremely hostile toward her, kicked her out of his office, suspended her without pay and mandated that she undergo counseling based upon the school’s “perception of her mental health condition,” all because she attempted to file a grievance on behalf of one of the defendant’s employees.

Soon after filing her complaint, Immordino was subjected to increased animosity and hostility by the school’s management, including Grisi, she claims.

Grisi in particular made the woman’s job duties more difficult, the lawsuit states, by repeatedly harassing her, moving her around to different positions, and closely scrutinizing her job performance.

Immordino, the complaint says, continued to complain to management about the discriminatory and retaliatory treatment, but the allegations were never properly investigated or resolved.

She was then terminated from her job for what the suit calls “pretextual reasons,” which were that the plaintiff was allegedly sleeping on the job.

Her attorneys, led by Bensalem lawyer Ari Karpf, have also petitioned Judge Jacob Hart to have fees and expenses paid by the defendants, saying statutes of the underlying Civil Rights Act and Pennsylvania Human Rights Act provide for court costs charged to the defense if a plaintiff's case is successful.

Karpf's petition calculates his fees at $172,005, bringing the total judgment up to $255,005. Court documents say his hourly rate is $375 an hour, providing two-and-a-half years of representation beginning with the initial complaint filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and ending with the trial.

He also submits $250 per hour rate for two four-year associates who assisted with the litigation. Karpf also notes that he omitted more than $5,000 in billable time for paralegal work and another $5,000 for pre-trial prep work, review of arguments at trial and testimony preparation.

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