Eastern District of Pennsylvania Allows Employee’s Retaliation Claims to Proceed
In Betz v. Temple Health Systems the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of Plaintiff, allowing her to proceed with her retaliation claim against Defendant Temple Health Systems.
While working at Temple Health Systems, Plaintiff, a registered nurse, repeatedly complained to her supervisors and executive management about persistent sexual harassment, inappropriate touching and groping. Temple Health Systems Plaintiff’s allegations and determined that her complaints did not amount to sexual harassment or retaliation. Plaintiff then filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Shortly thereafter, Temple Health Systems suspended and then fired Plaintiff. Temple Health Systems alleged that the suspension and termination were not in retaliation for Plaintiff’s complaints, but rather the result of a serious medical error that Plaintiff committed, which she subsequently attempted to hide by altering patient records.
In Betz, the Court found that “the employer’s statements in combination with the relatively short timeframe between the filing of the employee’s EEOC charge and her suspension formed the basis for establishing a prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII and the PHRA.” The Court also found that the Temple Health System’s proffered reason was sufficient to allow a factfinder to conclude that the employer suspended and terminated the employee for a legitimate non-discriminatory reason. However, the Court found there was sufficient evince of pretext because a factfinder could reasonably draw such a conclusion because a manager told Plaintiff that she would be fired if she kept on complaining, and that ‘[i]f you don’t shut your mouth, you’re next because you already complained and we’re sick of hearing from you’; and after the employee filed her EEOC Charge, the manager told her that she ‘made a big mistake by going to the EEOC.’”