Disabled store worker alleges ADA violations

By Carol Ostrow | Aug 6, 2015

PHILADELPHIA - An art materials store worker is suing her employer, alleging disability discrimination in a series of incidents designed to discriminate against her.

Samantha DiLacqua of Philadelphia filed a lawsuit July 13 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Dick Blick Art Materials, alleging multiple counts of disability discrimination during her employment.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff was hired to work at Utrecht Art Supplies, 301 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, and became a full-time employee in 2009. The lawsuit states that following a serious automobile accident Feb. 20, 2011, caused by a drunk driver, DiLacqua sustained traumatic brain injury and cognitive disorder causing short-term memory loss and was hospitalized approximately four months.

Returning to the store on a volunteer basis in late January 2012, DiLacqua alleges, she resumed tasks such as customer assistance, stocking inventory and display, although she could no longer perform heavy physical work or cashier.

The lawsuit states when DiLacqua's neurologist issued a work release July 26, 2012, she returned to paid work, and when the Utrecht store was acquired by Dick Blick in April 2013, the plaintiff was rehired for the same position. DiLacqua says Dick Blick was aware of her disabilities.

According to the suit, on Jan. 29, 2014, the plaintiff was informed of a customer complaint based on an incident of which she had no memory. The plaintiff contends her employer refused to engage with her regarding her disability and instead demanded she provide medical documentation which it already possessed, in an attempt to harass and intimidate her.

Additionally, the suit says, DiLacqua was refused any further accommodations, was alternately barred from working--despite supporting documentation from her doctor—denied hours, and otherwise harassed from February-July 2014.

The suit states DiLacqua was terminated after filing an EEOC complaint July 29, 2014. The plaintiff alleges humiliation, embarrassment, distress, and anxiety, along with loss of compensation. She charges disability discrimination, wrongful termination, the creation of a hostile work environment, and retaliatory discharge.

DiLacqua seeks back and front pay, reinstatement, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees and costs. She is represented by attorneys Jacqueline Vigilante and Jillian Ayoub Antinore of the Vigilante Law Firm in Mullica Hill, N.J.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case number 2:15-cv-03860-LDD.

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