Longtime registered nurse says former hospital wouldn't take her back full-time after her absence for cancer treatments

By Nicholas Malfitano | Nov 6, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – A veteran registered nurse has sued her former hospital employer for disability discrimination and retaliation, claiming she was not allowed to return to full-time duties after taking a medical leave of absence to treat her breast cancer.

Laura A. Yingst of Downingtown filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Oct. 23 versus Coatesville Hospital Company, LLC (doing business as “Brandywine Hospital”), of Coatesville.

According to the litigation, Yingst is a registered nurse of more than 30 years’ experience. She had been working for Brandywine Hospital for over 25 years when she learned that she had developed breast cancer, in July 2014. 

At the time, Yingst was working as a per-diem registered nurse in the recovery room, and it was necessary to take time away from her work duties to treat her cancer, the suit says. After treatment and multiple surgeries, Yingst was cancer-free and sought to resume her usual duties when she returned to Brandywine Hospital in the spring of 2016.

“Rather than welcome a long-service colleague back into a regular position, the hospital’s nursing supervisor refused to hire Ms. Yingst into an open full-time regular position because she had ‘missed too much’ time during her breast cancer treatment. Later, Brandywine Hospital’s Human Resources Department ignore Ms. Yingst’s multiple internal complaints of disability discrimination and helped to facilitate the rejection of her applications for two part-time regular positions,” the suit states.

Since regular positions at Brandywine Hospital were no longer open, with the hospital having hired other nurses arguably less-qualified than the plaintiff for them on multiple occasions, Yingst resigned her employment with Brandywine Hospital, effective Nov. 30, 2016, to accept a full-time regular position at another hospital, the suit says.

“In her resignation letter, Ms. Yingst reiterated her complaint that she had been denied regular employment because of her prior cancer diagnosis and related treatment. Again, Brandywine Hospital ignored Ms. Yingst's internal complaint,” the suit states.

The defendant has not yet filed a response to the litigation.

For violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act through both disability discrimination and retaliation, and in addition to a jury trial, the plaintiff is seeking the following forms of relief:

• A declaratory judgment that defendant’s acts, policies, practices and procedures complained of herein have violated plaintiff’s rights as secured to her by law;

• Require defendant, Brandywine Hospital, to offer plaintiff the regular position that she was denied, and to award her full wages and benefits commensurate with that position;

• Compensation for all past and future pecuniary losses resulting from defendant’s illegal actions in refusing to hire her, including, but not limited to lost earnings, lost earnings growth potential, all compensation and benefits lost due to the actions of defendants, all out-of-pocket losses, as well as an award of front pay if employment with Brandywine Hospital is not possible;

• Compensation for all past and future non-pecuniary losses resulting from defendant's illegal actions in refusing to hire her, including, but not limited to, pain and suffering, emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment, and a loss of life’s pleasures in an amount to be determined at trial;

• Punitive damages for defendant’s malicious and reckless conduct as described herein, in an amount to be determined at trial;

• All costs, disbursements, and reasonable attorneys’ fees relating to the enforcement of her rights, pre-judgment interest and such additional relief as the Court deems just and proper under the circumstances.

The plaintiff is represented by Julie A. Uebler of Greenblatt Pierce Funt & Flores, in Philadelphia.

The defendant has not yet secured legal representation, per Court records.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:18-cv-04558

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nick.malfitano@therecordinc.com

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