PHILADELPHIA – A housekeeper twice-employed by a local vet clinic believes she was illegally and wrongfully terminated, and is seeking damages from the clinic and its owner to redress these alleged infractions.

Sonia Wescott of Philadelphia filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Sept. 6 versus Girard Veterinary Clinic and Cynthia Balzer, both of Philadelphia.

Wescott says she was first employed by the clinic for six years, before voluntarily leaving due to relocation. But when she returned to Pennsylvania, Wescott added she was re-hired by the clinic in July 2015 as a housekeeper, and performed in this role for nine months, until her termination in April 2016. 

During both stints of her employment with the defendants, Wescott maintains her performance was very good and she did not cause any disciplinary issues.

On March 23, 2016, Wescott injured her arm while at work and reported the injury to the clinic’s management, including Balzer. Two days later, Wescott’s arm became very swollen and required a hospital visit, where she was diagnosed with cellulitis and prescribed various medications, the lawsuit says.

Wescott attempted to return to work on March 28, 2016, but could not complete a full day and was sent home, which resulted in the plaintiff taking a short medical leave of absence. On April 1, 2016, Wescott states Balzer informed her that if she did not return to work by April 11, in 10 days, that she would be terminated from her employment with the clinic.

However, Wescott claims she was scheduled to have her chest x-rayed that day and that she possessed a doctor’s note confirming her return to work on April 14, 2016. But because she could not return to work on April 11, 2016, Wescott says the clinic and Balzer followed through on its promise of terminating her employment – despite the plaintiff only needing an additional three days of recovery time.

“Plaintiff believes and therefore avers that she was terminated (1) Because of her actual/perceived/record of disabilities; (2) Because of defendants’ failure to accommodate her; (3) In retaliation for requesting reasonable accommodations; (4) And/or in retaliation for seeking worker’s compensation benefits,” the suit says. 

For counts of violating the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) and common law wrongful discharge, the plaintiff is seeking the defendants be prevented from engaging in retaliation, further violating the PHRA, restitution for lost pay and benefits she would have received, costs, expenses and legal fees, actual damages, equitable and legal relief as entitled by law, as well as a trial by jury.

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

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 170900409

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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