African-American lesbian files wrongful-termination lawsuit in federal court

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A Pottsville, Pa. African-American lesbian filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in federal court last month, claiming she was fired from her job as a nursing assistant after using female pronouns to refer to her life partner during a workplace conversation.

“Jane Doe” filed suit in the Middle District of Pennsylvania against Saber Healthcare Group on Sept. 28. She’s seeking in excess of $150,000 in damages. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert D. Mariani, based in Scranton. A jury trial has been requested.

In September 2022, Doe, 25, began working for Saber as a certified nursing assistant. Saber provides skilled nursing care, long-term care and senior rehabilitation services. Doe worked at Saber’s nursing home facility in Tremont, Pa. She claims she was subjected to a hostile work environment due to her race, sex, sexual orientation and gender nonconformity. 

Moreover, Doe alleges retaliation by Saber after she complained of alleged workplace discrimination, according to the 30-page lawsuit.

In October 2022, Doe had a conversation with a colleague about her life partner, whom she referred to using female pronouns. The conversation was overheard by a supervisor, who allegedly said, “I don’t believe in gay marriage,” according to the lawsuit.

Following that conversation, Doe allegedly was mistreated in various ways at Saber. For example, the hours of her work shifts were shortened, without explanation. As a result, Doe suffered a loss of income. 

On Dec. 11, 2022, a resident of Saber allegedly hit Doe quite forcefully. The alleged assault was severe enough to constitute workplace harassment. Doe promptly reported the assault, but her supervisor merely laughed, according to the lawsuit.

The alleged assault of Doe became the subject of workplace gossip, which wasn’t initiated by Doe, according to the lawsuit.

On Dec. 13, 2022, the resident who allegedly assaulted Doe referred to Doe as a “brownie” when Doe delivered food to the resident, according to the lawsuit.

Later that day, Doe complained about the alleged mistreatment to the facility’s administrator. The administrator allegedly encouraged Doe to resign, according to the lawsuit.

Two days later, Doe allegedly was fired from her job. Doe requested unemployment compensation from the state. Saber opposed Doe’s request for unemployment compensation. However, the state eventually agreed to provide Doe with unemployment compensation, despite Saber’s objections, according to the lawsuit.

“Ms. Doe suffered materially adverse action from Defendants constituting post-employment retaliation,” the lawsuit states.

In February 2023, Doe filed an antibias complaint against Saber with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Doe was granted permission to file a federal lawsuit against Saber by the EEOC in July 2023.

Doe’s lawsuit claims that Saber violated state and federal antibias laws, including the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the state Equal Pay Law of 1959.

She’s seeking more than $150,000 in damages, including back-pay losses, front-pay losses, punitive damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

Attorneys for both sides had no comment for this story.

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