Woman alleges gender-based discrimination at work

By Kasey Schefflin-Emrich | Jul 30, 2015

A Kempton woman is suing her former employer, alleging unlawful employment practices.

Jean Black filed a lawsuit July 22 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Mid-Atlantic Energy Concepts, doing business as Atlantic Energy Concepts,  vice president/general manager Brad Salamone, and project development manager Paul Olive, alleging sex and gender-based discrimination and then retaliation for reporting the behavior.

According to the complaint, Black began working for the defendant as a senior lighting designer/project manager in September 2011. The suit says upon being hired she was subjected to continuous gender-based discrimination with male employees excluding her from interactions and failing to properly communicate with her, and management favoring male employees such as valuing their opinions more, holding them to lesser and different standard than her, and giving them more freedom in the way they perform their job functions.

The suit states when Black started reporting and complaining of the discriminatory conduct to Salamone and Olive, beginning in 2013, nothing was done to address the illegal behavior and she was subjected to retaliation. This included the defendants allowing employees to continue to discriminate against her based on her gender and Atlantic terminating her employment in May 2013, the lawsuit says.

Atlantic alleges Black was terminated because of a complaint from a customer about how she was doing her job. Black contends the basis for terminations was false and pretextual and actually done in direct retaliation of her reporting the gender-based discrimination.

Black added that the customer was allegedly displeased after receiving a phone from her despite the fact Black was following the directions of Atlantic when dealing with the customer. Black says her objections to being terminated were dismissed.

The suit says says three new male employees were hired before Black was terminated to assume part of her job duties, and a male employee who constantly failed to meet performance goals was neither disciplined nor fired.

Black alleges the defendants violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act by creating and fostering a hostile and offensive work environment, and retaliating against her when she exercised her protected right of reporting discrimination. The plaintiff alleges she has and will continue to suffer emotional and physical distress, loss of self-esteem and lost earnings.

Black seeks lost wages and benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees and costs of suit, and other relief deemed appropriate by the court. She is represented by attorneys George Kounoupis and Michael Alpago of Hahalis & Kounoupis in Bethlehem.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case number 5:15-cv-04060-JFL.

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